Newest Nevada Vaccine Group Can Self-Report Health Condition

People age 55 and older can self-report to their pharmacist any underlying health conditions that make them eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, Nevada health officials said.

As eligibility has broadened in the statewide coronavirus inoculation process, deaths from COVID-19 have fallen to an average of about four per day, state biostatistician Kyra Morgan told a statewide panel on Tuesday. Average deaths during the pandemic peaked at 40 per day in mid-January.

Morgan did not tie vaccinations to recent data showing fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

But “this is really about the best we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic,” she told Nevada COVID-19 Task Force members.

The panel is meeting this week with officials from Nevada’s 17 counties to plan a return of coronavirus response authority to local control on May 1.

Panel members on Monday cast efforts to reach people with underlying health conditions, disabilities and the homeless at retail pharmacies and supermarkets as an effort to get more shots in arms.

“We will see how the appointment scheduling goes this week,” said Candice McDaniel, state vaccination chief. “And then we’ll compare that with the supply that we hope to see for next week and then we’ll be able to gauge when we’ll be able to open it (further).”

“I really hope that people attest to what they truly have,” McDaniel said.

State health officials reported 346 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, totaling 299,817 since March 2020. Fourteen new deaths reported since Monday brought the pandemic toll in Nevada to 5,135.

Test positivity continues to decrease in the state, to 5.5%. The measure of the number of people tested who receive a positive diagnosis peaked at 21.6% in January. The World Health Organization target is 5% or less for at least two weeks before easing restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus.

More than 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Nevada, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. The state’s weekly allocation of vaccines has risen to about 70,000, from 47,000 last month.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said 19.5% of Nevada’s population has received at least one dose of vaccine, and almost 11% have completed the process.

That compares with almost 22% of the U.S. population receiving at least one shot, according to the CDC, and 11.8% fully vaccinated.

About one-third of Nevada’s 3.1 million population is 50 and older, and the state Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about 290,000 people ages 55 to 64 have underlying conditions.

That age group joined a prioritization list that started in December with doctors and first responders and went on to add teachers, government and community support employees.

In northern Nevada, Washoe County health officials have focused on vaccinating frontline supply chain workers, including essential airport employees. Plans call for widening eligibility to transportation, warehouse workers and the trucking industry — one of the biggest categories in the Reno-Sparks area.

The eligibility list of underlying conditions covers a wide range of ailments including cancer; chronic heart, lung, kidney and liver diseases; diabetes; dementia; Down syndrome; and high blood pressure. It also includes people with compromised immune systems because of organ transplants, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease and smoking.


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