LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — In a little less than two weeks, Nevadans ages 16 and up can get the COVID-19 vaccine.
On March 22, Nevadans in that same age group with underlying health conditions became eligible. Experts say despite this, a lot of people are still not signing up for vaccination appointments, and they are worried that trend will continue.
A spokesperson for the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) tells 8 News Now its two mega-sites at the Cashman Center and Las Vegas Convention Center are not operating at full capacity right now. That is what other clinics across the Las Vegas valley are seeing, too.
Due to this, they are encouraging everyone who is currently eligible to get their shot now.
“We want to be busy,” said Dr. Michael Gardner, president and CEO of UNLV Medicine.
Gardner is also in charge of the UNLV COVID-19 vaccination clinics. He says despite expanded eligibility across Nevada, several appointments are still available. He wants to administer more doses.
“We’re doing 1,100, 1,200 a day,” Gardner shared. “We’re designed to do over 2,000 a day. We can ramp up.”
He says vaccine hesitancy is partially to blame, but he wants everyone to know the vaccine — regardless of whether it comes from Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson — is safe and effective.
The question now is what will happen on April 5, when Nevadans ages 16 and up are able to get the shot.
“Our biggest fear is that we won’t have a huge influx,” Gardner said.
He is encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.
“I’m hoping that a vast majority of the population will make that clear choice.”
At a recent vaccination clinic at Roseman University of Health Sciences, they also noticed many people not getting their scheduled shot.
“We had about 650 appointments, and of those, we had about 150 no-shows,” said Dr. Christina Madison, an associate professor of pharmacy practice at Roseman University of Health Sciences.
Madison, who also runs the Roseman COVID-19 vaccine clinics, says some people are not coming back for their second dose because of transportation or mobility issues. That is why the team at Roseman will continue focusing on targeted outreach for vulnerable and minority communities when the next group becomes eligible.
“We already have three strike teams scheduled for that week,” Madison said. “We want to make sure that everyone has access and not that we’re just getting the vaccine out quickly, but we’re getting the vaccine out equitably.”
The goal for everyone is to move passed this pandemic.
“We want to move forward,” Gardner said. “The way we can move forward is through the vaccine.”
SNHD also tells 8 News Now that they are prepared to increase their hours at their Cashman Center and Las Vegas Convention Center sites, so they can offer more appointments once vaccine eligibility expands again on April 5.