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UMC vaccinates hundreds of healthcare workers on day one of immunization campaign

Posted at 5:35 PM, Dec 14, 2020

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — 12,675 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Southern Nevada Monday morning - a moment months in the making.

"It was a very pleasant surprise this morning to be able to start rolling out the vaccination to our employees before noon," said UMC CEO Mason Van Houweling.

But just because the first vaccine has arrived doesn't mean everyone has is confident in its safety and effectiveness. JoAnn Rupiper is the Director of Clinical Services for the Southern Nevada Health District. She said the district recently surveyed valley health care workers and the results were varied.

"Looking at one hospital survey, it looks like around 60 or 70%. We surveyed our own and we had a similar number and maybe some other groups on the tier were about 50-50," said Rupiper.

Van Houweling said the vaccine is voluntary but highly encouraged and he expects about 90 percent of hospital staff to get it.

"We will have those that kind of wait and see and see how it goes just like with the flu vaccine every year. We still have portions of our population in our community that will forgo the flu vaccine so I suspect that will be the same here," Van Houweling said.

Rupiper said the first in line for the vaccine is the highest risk health care workers, the people who work with COVID patients day in and day out.

"They can see the devastation and they can see what exactly happens so they are very happy to get the vaccine to protect themselves," she said.

The first shipment of vaccines is going to health care workers. Health officials said the first shipment of vaccines for long-term care facility residents and staff will arrive next week. Those will be delivered to pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens to be distributed from there.