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Officials: 1st vaccine doses will not impact current surge

December 14, 2020 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Initial deliveries of the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine began arriving in Nevada Monday but health officials said it’s not expected to have an immediate impact on the state’s surge of reported cases, hospitalizations and deaths and people should continue to follow restrictions that aim to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine were delivered to the Southern Nevada Health District in the morning, which Gov. Steve Sisolak applauded on Twitter.

“Hope is on the horizon, but we must remain vigilant. Wear your mask, wash your hands & keep your distance,” the Democrat said in a tweet.

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His comments were echoed by the state’s top COVID-19 advisors, who cautioned that because the state’s initial distribution of the vaccine will be going to a limited number of people and the vaccine requires a second dose a few weeks later, Nevadans need to continue wearing masks, social distancing and following other guidelines.

“Nevadans need to really not consider the vaccine the silver bullet today. We need to look at the vaccine as the silver bullet many months from now,” Nevada Department of Public and Behavioral Health Deputy Administrator Julia Peek told reporters Monday afternoon.

Peek said people should instead continue abiding by rules and guidance aimed at minimizing the virus spread.

Sisolak a day earlier announced he was extending current restrictions on businesses and gatherings until at least Jan. 15.

Nevada officials said they will follow federal guidelines and distribute the state’s initial vaccine allocation to front-line hospital staff and then residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes. The state expects to receive 25,350 initial doses from Pfizer this week.

The initial distribution came as officials on Monday reported 2,579 new COVID-19 cases in the state and nine more deaths.

Nevada has reported 189,412 cases since the virus outbreak began and 2,548 deaths.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for up to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness and death. However, the vast majority of people recover.