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SNHD prepping for potential COVID vaccine distribution

Posted at 5:19 PM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 01:48:08-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — When the vaccine arrives, the Southern Nevada Health District says it’ll be ready to take care of distributing it to people here in the valley.

As the race to get a COVID vaccine continues to progress SNHD says it’s ready to give it out.

“We’ve been planning for this for a while and keep in mind most health departments and agencies have mass vaccination planning.”

Joann Rupiper is the director of clinical services for SNHD. She says SNHD has experience from the H1N1 flu pandemic and can use current flu clinics to test distribution efforts.

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“When the vaccine does come, it’s going to be seamless and quick and we’ll have all those bugs worked out,” she said.

Rupiper expects a limited number of vaccines initially available. “Critical” groups will get it first like frontline health care workers and people over the age of 65. The health district is working to get enough providers to distribute a vaccine and various locations like nursing homes, hospitals, and pharmacies. She wants to reassure the public any vaccine will go through multiple layers of scrutiny from the FDA, CDC, and the chief health officer of SNHD.

“He gives us the order to we’ll go along, and he’ll sign off and go out and give this vaccine according to his criteria,” Rupiper said.

Local doctor Jeffery Ng is encouraged by the progress of vaccine development but says there’s still more research to be done before it’s ready.

“How long does this protection last? Does it protect individuals who previously had COVID? Does efficacy mean it actually prevents you from getting the virus or does it just reduce symptoms, so you don’t have to go to the doctor?” he said.

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Rupiper says it’s unknown when a vaccine will be ready but believe they’ll be ready to give it out.

“We’re keeping our eyes to the future and planning specifically how we’re going to present the vaccine to the public,’ she said.

Rupiper is urging anyone to get their flu shot to help keep hospitalizations down in the area.

“Get the crowds back. That’s the main thing. Everything will take care of itself.”

Anthony Curtis is the owner of LasVegasAdvisor.com. He says ever since strip casinos reopened back in June it hasn’t been the type of action this town needs.

“We’re not even at 50 percent of what we should be at this time,” he said.

However, with a potential vaccine, people might be willing to roll the dice on a trip here.

“A vaccine for a lot of people is like a bulletproof vest. They’ll feel that they can do almost anything and that would include a trip to Las Vegas,” Curtis said.

With a vaccine, social distancing requirements would likely loosen allowing more people inside. It will help strip casinos that are currently only open part-time.

“This will allow them to go to a full slate of being open. This is what everybody’s been waiting for,” he said.

Curtis says the potential of full conventions and shows will contribute greatly to the trickle-down economics of the area.

“If the casinos and bars are open and people are working and making money and going to other places, even a lawnmower shop is going to do better with more people in town,” he said.

Curtis says he’s optimistic for the future of Las Vegas, once a vaccine becomes a reality.

“Once this vaccine is out there on the market and people are inoculated and they have done it, then I don’t see what could hold them back,” he said.