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We have the tools to control COVID-19

With the governor’s announcement that all Nevadans 16-plus will be able to get the COVID vaccine after April 5, we’ll soon get to experience the things we missed last year.

We’re going to be able to hold new babies rather than coo at them through Zoom. We’ll be able to celebrate special birthdays and anniversaries together in person. We’ll be able to watch our kids participate in sports and we may even get to go to Disneyland! As importantly, we’ll be able to go back to work building an even better Nevada in the process.

While 2020 did not give us much to celebrate, one good thing did come out of that year — the COVID vaccine. Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen (Johnson &Johnson) have all developed vaccines that are 100% effective in protecting people from hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

As the COVID vaccine roll-out is a huge undertaking with many moving parts, it’s likely you have questions. We’ve provided some short answers here, and you can find more information at immunizenevada.org/covid-19-faq, including how to make an appointment to get your vaccine.

How do we know it’s safe?

The COVID-19 vaccine approval process is the same as it is for every U.S. vaccine. It’s a very methodical process with numerous independent groups assessing clinical trial data and making recommendations.

Two of the biggest safeguards to vaccines are the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, both of which are made up of independent experts who are not employees of the government and both of which hold open meetings available to the public.

How much does the vaccine cost?

All COVID-19 vaccines are free, with or without insurance.

Perhaps the most important of all these questions, and the two we’re most excited about:

When will all Nevadans be able to be vaccinated?

While it’s been announced that anyone 16-plus who wants the vaccine can make an appointment, that’s a lot of people. So it will take many months to ensure everyone is fully vaccinated (which involves two doses in the case of Moderna and Pfizer).

When will things go back to normal?

That’s a difficult question to answer, as “normal” looks different for everyone. For now, the CDC is recommending that fully vaccinated people try to only socialize with other fully vaccinated people at their home.

Outside of one’s home, masks should still be worn and social distancing guidelines should be followed. These measures serve as a stepping stone toward normalcy while ensuring safety for our neighbors who have not yet received the vaccine.

So yes, we still have a ways to go before we can socialize and work more freely, but there is something you can do right now (or at least soon) to speed up that process: Make an appointment to get your COVID-19 vaccine. And if you’ve already done that, reach out to the people you love and help them make their own appointments.

Working together, we have the power to get Nevada back to work — and back to the life we all miss. For more information, visit NVCOVIDFighter.org

Heidi Parker, Immunize Nevada Executive Director

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