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Clark County health officials worried about not reaching vaccination goal

Posted at 2:05 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 23:23:36-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Will Clark County reach its vaccination goals? The answer to that question has local health officials worried as the number of people getting vaccines continues to drop.

The fear? It won’t reach 60% of the population getting at least their first dose by June 1.

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“We knew we would reach a day where it is difficult to get people to want to get vaccinated.”

UNLV health professor Dr. Brian Labus is not surprised by the declining vaccination numbers in Clark County. After seeing a peak of about 25,000 doses a day given on April 13, that number has dropped to about 1,600 doses on May 9.

“You have all the people that wanted to get vaccinated and who were strongly pro-vaccine, got their vaccine early, and now we’re reaching the people that are vaccine-hesitant or refusing to get the vaccine,” he said.

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This has prompted concerns Clark County won’t meet its goal of having 60% of the eligible population with at least one dose by June 1. The goal when reached would remove social distancing requirements and allow the county to open at 100% capacity. The date is a goal Gov. Steve Sisolak put in to reopen fully. The county is currently at 47% with three weeks to go.

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“We set these when people were getting the vaccines a lot more frequently as so it’s going to be a challenge to hit those arbitrary deadlines, we set for ourselves,” Dr. Labus said.

He says there are many reasons for the decline including fear surrounding blood clots from the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and being inconvenient for people to get a shot.

“We’ve seen a decline in cases in our community which puts less pressure on people to go out and get vaccinated,” he said.

The Southern Nevada Health District says it’s aware of the decline and has expanded outreach efforts and vaccination sites, like the one at Texas Station.

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“Anything we can do to reach people who are unable to get to vaccination sites or unwilling to get vaccinated is going to help increase our numbers,” Dr. Labus said.

Gov. Sisolak’s office says county officials have the discretion to decide their own regulations. Clark County officials say it’s monitoring the numbers and will evaluate at the end of May. Dr. Labus believes the 60% goal will eventually be reached but may be delayed for a short time.

“The is the challenge of public health now. How do we get more people vaccinated to stamp out this disease in our community,” he said.

Dr. Labus says with 12 to 15-years-olds potentially able to get the vaccine soon, this will also help out in reaching that goal.