I-Team: Questions raised about City of Henderson vaccination plan


HENDERSON, Nev. (KLAS) — A lot of people have reached out to 8 News Now about the new COVID-19 vaccination plan. Among the questions are some concerns specific to Henderson.

Viewers contacted us saying something is not quite right about how the City of Henderson is handling the vaccine. There are concerns about whether elected officials jumped the line.

Some city employees, including elected officials, could get vaccinated as early as Jan. 4 alongside frontline workers, like firefighters and police.

A spokeswoman told the I-Team elected officials are critical to city operations. She also highlighted who was prioritized and that getting vaccinated is voluntary:

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary and City employees self-schedule their appointment; we are not tracking when specific individuals receive it. The vaccine is being given to patients in accordance with the tiered prioritization defined by the State of Nevada and Southern Nevada Health District.

City employees that are prioritized to receive the vaccine are emergency medical services providers, public safety staff and employees supporting the critical infrastructure operations of the city …”

Kathleen Richards, senior public information officer, City of Henderson

But according to the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD), public officials were in Tier 2 behind frontline workers, not alongside them. An SNHD spokeswoman wrote:

Public officials would be considered critical infrastructure as part of continuity of government; this is tier 2.”

Stephanie Bethel, Southern Nevada Health District spokeswoman

There is confusion, to say the least.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state is far behind in vaccinating Nevadans. We asked the governor why it took so long to come up with the newer vaccination playbook, to which he responded:

“It hasn’t taken so long, Vanessa, to really come up with it. We’ve been planning this for a long time. We did not have the resources … I’m not satisfied, but I’m proud of everything our frontline workers have done.”

The I-Team also reached out to other cities in Southern Nevada and Clark County to find out where public officials fall in their vaccination plans. Here’s what they told us:

Clark County

Like other hospitals, UMC directly received vaccine doses for health care workers and first responders, but otherwise the County is not administering the vaccine here.

County employees and elected officials are expected to follow the state/SNHD guidelines regarding when we receive the vaccine.”

Dan Kulin, Clark County spokesman

City of Las Vegas

The Southern Nevada Health District is the lead on vaccine distribution. I know it is being rolled out to first responders like hospital staff, fire and law enforcement first.”

Jace Radke, senior public information officer, City of Las Vegas

City of North Las Vegas

The City Council falls at the end of Tier 1, after firefighters/EMTs, police officers, corrections staff and critical infrastructure employees.”

Patrick Walker, communications manager, City of North Las Vegas

North Las Vegas critical infrastructure employees, like elected officials, can get vaccinated starting Wednesday.

Boulder City

We are currently working on finalizing phase 1A. Our five-member City Council ages and health conditions range – we have members who fit in phases 1B and 1C.

Mayor Kiernan McManus stated, ‘I plan to follow the recommendations for vaccination based on my age without regard to my position as Mayor. That would place me in Tier 4.'”

Lisa LaPlante, communications manager, City of Boulder City

In a followup email, the City of Henderson spokeswoman insists the mayor and council fall within Tier 1 since they make crucial decisions for the city. She also says the city has returned vials it hasn’t used, giving them back to the health district. The full statement reads:

Up to this point, the City of Henderson has only been authorized to provide the vaccine to its employees, in accordance with the State of Nevada’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program Playbook.

Henderson Mayor and Council clearly fall within Tier 1 Critical Infrastructure Workforce as part of the City’s emergency operations. They make crucial decisions on where to direct the city’s resources, authorize emergency spending and issue directives that cannot be made without their authorization.

The City has been very diligent in following the playbook guidelines, even returning unused vials of vaccine to the Southern Nevada Health District rather than vaccinating employees that are not defined as critical infrastructure workforce.

The City of Henderson is eager and ready to push out the COVID-19 vaccination program to the community. With the governor’s update to the playbook yesterday evening, the City is now able to setup vaccination distribution spots and we are working with community partners that include Sun City Anthem and College of Southern Nevada, Henderson Campus, among others, to start offering the COVID-19 vaccine to the community next week.”

Kathleen Richards, senior public information officer, City of Henderson

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