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Nevada encouraged by demand for COVID-19 shots for ages 5-11

November 11, 2021 GMT

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada health officials said Wednesday they are encouraged by initial demand for COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 5-11 and local pediatricians are reporting strong interest.

But some logistical issues and technical glitches in the state’s scheduling platform have slowed the rollout of the doses at county and community health clinics, they said.

Experts also expressed concerns that a recent uptick in new coronavirus cases statewide could signal a similar trend as last November when the pandemic began a climb to its most serious level in December 2020.

They’re hopeful the addition of the 277,000 Nevadans aged 5-11 to those eligible for vaccination will put the state in a better position than last year to combat the spread of the virus.

“Certainly the demand is out there,” said Dr. Terrence McAllister, a Las Vegas pediatrician who joined state officials for a weekly update for reporters on Wednesday.

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James English, regional COVID-19 operations chief for Washoe County’s health district, said a line started forming outside the Reno Livestock Events Center for Saturday’s first walk-up doses for younger kids “well before 6:45 a.m., so it’s obvious there is demand and there are a lot of people who support this vaccination.”

“A lot of excited kids. A lot of relieved parents,” he said.

State health officials estimated Wednesday that 4,300 Nevada children aged 5-11 have received a first dose, but the numbers are lagging a day or two as they input them in the system.

Washoe County health officials said the state estimates 300 doses have been children aged 5-11 in the county but they believe the real number is more like 700 to 1,000 because of a 36-hour delay or longer in reporting.

The biggest hurdle has been that the state’s vaccine scheduling site was having a problem allowing young children to sign up, an issue that also cropped up when adult boosters first came out. That problem is expected to be fixed soon.

In the meantime, most health districts are providing only walk-up shots without appointments. In Washoe County they’re capped at 100 per day.

“It’s really a scheduling and staffing hang-up for us. That’s really what’s hindering our operation and being able to ramp up,” English said. He noted there now are three different doses of four types of vaccines for children or adults, including boosters.

Officials are encouraging parents to seek vaccinations from their pediatricians or one of the other more than 230 providers statewide including pharmacies that have enrolled in the state program.

Karissa Loper, chief of the Nevada Bureau of Children, Family and Community Wellness, said the initial does delivered to the state were required to be in increments of a minimum of 300, which created storage issues for some, but this week they’ve been allowed to order them in 100-dose lots.

“I think the doses are available. I think counties are working through all the logistic and operational challenges of adding this new group of individuals who get a different dose, they get a different size of dose.... there’s a need to be stored differently,” she said Wednesday.

Among Nevadans aged 12 and older, 65.7% have received a first dose and 56.6% are fully vaccinated.

The statewide positivity test rate, which had remained below 7% since Oct. 25, has climbed from 6.6% to 7.1% over the last week, the state website showed Wednesday. It’s risen to 9.8% in Washoe County, 6.2% in Clark County and 9.4% in rural counties outside Reno, Las Vegas and Carson City.

“Overall, our trend has been upward,” Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick said Wednesday. “This is the time of year last year we saw a dramatic rise in new cases.”