FALLON, Nevada (AP) – Pickup truck drivers drive up to a white trailer in a parking lot on land in Fallon Paiute-Shoshone, in the high Nevada desert, and in a few moments they are handed the forms to sign, nailed with the coronavirus vaccine. and sent on their way.
The emerging clinic, located 60 miles (96 kilometers) east of Reno, is one of 28 places in the state where the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent mobile vaccination units to ensure that people in the most remote rural areas and cities with a traffic light can get inoculated.
It is one of the tactics used by health officials across the country to counteract the declining interest in vaccinations. In small towns, churches, dance stands, strip clubs and even marijuana dispensaries, officials are setting up shops and offering incentives to attract people as the nation struggles to gain herd immunity.
In Nevada, health officials acknowledge that they are unlikely to achieve their initial goal of vaccinating 75% of the population deemed necessary to achieve herd immunity. Ironically, his drive in northern Nevada is headquartered at the Reno Livestock Events Center, where Dan Lavely, 65, and others are shot.
Lavely said he was ripped off while thanking the nurses who vaccinated him.
“I told them I was so grateful that they offered their time to help us get back to normal so we could go shopping at the mall or go to the beach on Lake Tahoe,” said Lavely, who works in a large store. of boxes. to neighboring Sparks. The wait to be vaccinated had nothing to do with security concerns or distrust of the government, he said.
“It was a programming agreement. Besides, my middle name is procrastinating, ”Lavely said.
Two FEMA mobile trailers have traveled through Nevada to cities without pharmacies, clinics or other vaccination sites, allowing doctors, nurses and national guards to get to know first-hand the rural and tribal communities where vaccination has been difficult to to residents.
“That’s our philosophy: there’s no difference if there are two (people) or 200,” said Peggy Franklin, a volunteer nurse who has traveled alongside a FEMA trailer to Fallon, Alamo, Panaca and other cities.
To preserve the vaccine, the trailers are equipped with ultra-cold refrigerators powered by generators on wheels. On Monday, the two mobile clinics completed six-week loops through Nevada, which included ending two-shot regimes in the state that covers an area that would stretch from Boston to Baltimore and Buffalo, New York.
Initially, the goal was to vaccinate 250 people a day at each stop. But the numbers have varied as supply of vaccines has risen and demand has fallen.
“Just a month ago, people were still having difficulty finding vaccination sites. That has really changed in the last three or four weeks and we are now trying to find people with more hesitation, ”said Marc Reynolds, a Fallon doctor who has volunteered at his hometown mobile clinic and the Lovelock State Prison.
The clinics have delivered 7,600 shots during two tours of Nevada and have also been used in Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky and other states. Nevada’s Emergency Management Division chief Dave Fogerson said people in remote communities in the state “probably wouldn’t have gotten it any other way.”
Gerlach, for example, is 160 km from the nearest pharmacy in Reno-Sparks. With only 34 people, it was once home to a booming gypsum mine on the edge of the desert that hosts 80,000 visitors each year for the Burning Man Festival. The bleak landscape appeared in the Oscar-winning film, “Nomadland.”
Nearly half of Nevada’s eligible population has had at least one initial vaccine against COVID-19. But rates have varied geographically.
In Clark and Washoe counties, where Las Vegas and Reno are located, approximately half of those eligible have received at least one dose, according to the state. The rate has been about half that of Eureka and Elko counties, while Storey county has only recorded a 15% rate.
As infection rates decline and the state moves further away from the height of the pandemic, officials acknowledge convincing hesitation to get vaccinated to receive shots will not be easier. As a result, as a result of FEMA’s efforts, officials have been preparing emerging events similar to urban centers, suburban neighborhoods, and unconventional venues, ranging from a Las Vegas strip club to a Sparks truck stop along of an interstate going to Utah.
“It’s important that people who perform vaccination events resemble the community,” said Jeanne Freeman of Carson City Health and Human Services. “Comfort levels are important. Sometimes just being in a family place. “
Nevada has long struggled with some of the worst vaccination rates in the country. According to the CDC, it improved the fifth worst from last year with 42% of adults vaccinated against the flu. Part of the current outreach effort is to the 340,000 people who received these flu vaccines, but who have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Nevada perfects its messages based on the growing understanding of why some people are reluctant to receive photographs. So far, much of the focus has been on the cultural and historical barriers that make some groups less open to vaccinations, but for many, it can be reduced to simple comfort.
“A lot of people don’t mind getting vaccinated, they just don’t fit well into their daily lives,” said Karissa Loper, head of the Nevada Office of Child, Family and Community Welfare. “That’s really what we’re working on now with all of our partners, to make these clinics mobile and emerging.”
Jackie Shelton, vice president of the public relations firm that hired Nevada to help promote vaccine equity and outreach, said the latest advertising campaign is intended to “show people who look like you, colleagues who are getting the vaccine and why. “
“People don’t want to be told what to do, but they love to see their friends and other people talking about why they do it,” he said. “It’s all about empathy. And reminding people what they have missed during the pandemic and what they can recover from. ”
Future promotional ideas include sweepstakes open to fully vaccinated residents on July 4th. Colorado, Maryland, Ohio, New York and Oregon are among several states that are already attracting people with lottery prizes approaching $ 5 million.
Immunize Nevada is planning vaccination pop-ups in breweries, churches and parks, with bottles of water as loot, and programs to match parties like Juneteenth to target specific populations.
In Reno, shots are being fired at minor league baseball games and the Medical Social Justice League of the University of Nevada School of Medicine on Saturday hosted a clinic in a Catholic church with a large Latin congregation.
“We need to get to know them where they are and where they feel safe,” said Diana Sande, a spokeswoman for the university’s School of Community Health Sciences, about outreach efforts in the Latino community.
Kyra Morgan, Nevada’s chief biostatistician, has suggested that the state may not be able to achieve the initial goal of vaccinating 75% of the population.
Still, it is possible that communities may return to normal even if they do not reach the threshold needed for herd immunity, added Dr. Nancy Diao, director of the epidemiology and public health preparedness division of the herd. Washoe County.
“If we get a high enough population level, say maybe 60% or 70%, that can also be good enough for our community to drastically reduce the numbers,” he said, “and we can have this virus alive with us in a balance as we do with so many other diseases. “
Sonner reported from Reno. Metz is a member of the body of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national non-profit service program that places journalists in newsrooms to report on covert issues.