Nevada ranks 9th in COVID vaccine utilization; Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be here soon

Nevada has the ninth highest COVID-19 vaccine utilization rate, using 91% of its allotted vaccines, Nevada health officials said in a press briefing Wednesday morning. 

The national average is 85%.

Other states with high vaccine utilization rates include Colorado, Washington and Oregon.

The test positivity rate over the last 14 days is 8.6%. Compared to other U.S. states, Nevada has the fourth lowest number of daily average cases. The test positivity rate fell below 10% for the first time since November last weekend

A Renown nurse carries a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a drive-up vaccination for healthcare worker at the Reno Livestock Events Center parking lot on Thursday Dec. 17, 2020.

During Christmas, the test positivity rate was just under 20%. 

Nevada has continued to see a downward trend in new COVID-19 cases since January, state health officials said.  

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak praised Nevadans’ efforts in a tweet on Sunday. 

“Our efforts to work together and slow the spread are showing results! Please, continue to stay at home if you are sick, wear a mask, wash your hands and get a test if you may have been exposed to COVID-19,” he wrote. 

State health officials said that the Nevada Hospital Association reports a decline in hospitalizations and COVID-19 related deaths across the state.

Caleb Cage, COVID Response Director, said that they’ve seen a decrease in demand on PCR testing but are continuing to track other rapid testing across the test. He believes that Nevada has adequate testing to determine the transmission rate and nature of COVID-19. 

“Testing sites may change, but labs will remain in a prepared state in case they are required for another surge,” said Dr. Mark Pandori, Director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, when asked if testing sites would be scaled down. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week.

The FDA’s advisory committee are set to approve the vaccine based on the criteria set last year, USA Today reports. Then, the acting FDA commissioner could authorize the vaccine in just a few days.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, unlike Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccine, only includes one dose. But it is just as effective at fighting the virus, health officials say. 

The state ordered the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines the week after they were approved by the FDA, said state health official Candice McDaniel. She did not say exactly how soon Nevada would receive any Johnson and Johnson vaccines, saying that it is dependent on what the FDA’s process.

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As of Wednesday morning, there are a total of 292,059 cases and 4,919 deaths across the state, according to data from Nevada Health Response.

Approximately 6% of Nevadans have been fully vaccinated.

For additional information about school and business resources, county-specific vaccination plans and vaccine providers, go to www.ImmunizeNevada.org. The website now serves customers in Spanish and Chinese. 

A vaccine call center is also available. It is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week and can be reached at 1-800-401-0946.  They serve customers in English and Spanish. 

Kristin Oh is a public safety reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. She can be reached at koh@rgj.com or at 775-420-1285.  Please help support her work by subscribing