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Sisolak says residents 65 and older eligible for vaccine next week

Nevadans 65 years old and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at retail pharmacies starting next week, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Wednesday.

Sisolak also announced that full-contact sports in Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association schools may resume practices and games, and that schools that have been teaching in-person will soon be able to have more students in the classrooms.

Starting next week, pharmacies in all 17 Nevada counties that are vaccinating will be able to schedule shots for people 65, Sisolak said. The governor noted, however, that with the limited supply of the vaccine, “it will not be enough to cover the range of Nevadans in this age group.”

“We continue to ask Nevadans to be patient as we await increased allocations from the federal government,” Sisolak said.

Some smaller counties have already started vaccinating that age group, but the change announced by the governor marks the first opportunity for most Clark County residents 65-69 to receive the vaccine.

Sisolak said this was possible thanks to an increased allocation of the vaccine to the pharmacies from the Biden administration, but that because of limits on doses, only those pharmacies will be offering vaccines to the expanded age group. The governor added that it’s his goal to work with counties to expand vaccine availability for the 65-and-older population beyond pharmacies to other distribution sites starting March 1.

“I wish it had come sooner, but I’m totally thrilled with Governor Sisolak and his team that they finally responded to their constituents,” said Henderson resident Shirley Brice, who had organized a petition drive calling for the change.

“I think the bottom line is that more lives will be saved,” said the 66-year-old, who has two heart conditions. The decision will allow her to “start living a quasi-normal life and not live in fear every day.”

School capacity changes

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert said that schools where in-person teaching has been underway for at least 20 days will be able to increase limits in classrooms to 75 percent or 250 people in “a contained space,” with face masks and social distancing requirements in place, and that school bus capacity will be upped to 66 percent.

The changes to capacity limits will not immediately apply to schools in the Clark County School District, which is scheduled to return to some in-person instruction March 1. The school district has operated with 100 percent distance education since March 2020, with the exception of seven rural schools. It’s the only Nevada school district operating with full distance learning.

As for capacity limits in school buildings, there’s a 50 percent or 50-person capacity limit in place. But schools are allowed to apply for a state variance to get flexibility.

Sisolak pointed to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance showing that reopening schools can be done safely when communities implement and strictly adhere to proven mitigation measures.

Referencing the declining COVID-19 transmission rate in the state, Ebert said: “I want to thank the community for bringing these numbers down so that our children can have in-person learning.”

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Staff writers Julie Wootton-Greener and Mary Hynes contributed to this report.

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