Nevada COVID-19, flu vaccinations lag as concerns rise about winter surge 

By: - November 2, 2022 6:00 am

(Getty Images illustration)

Despite health experts voicing concerns of a “tripledemic” where the new strains of COVID-19, flu and R.S.V. (Respiratory syncytial virus) may collide, vaccine rates are falling short of what health officials would prefer, but Nevada is doing a little better than the national average. 

White House officials, including the President and the COVID-19 response coordinator, have been warning that COVID infections along with the flu and R.S.V., are likely to climb during winter.

While the new COVID-19 booster updated for the bivalent strain is available, the booster-eligible population has not demonstrated an eagerness to get the shot.

If 80% of people eligible for the updated booster received it by December 31, an estimated 89,465 lives could be saved in the U.S., according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, communities of color were disproportionately impacted by the virus nationally and in Nevada, but dwindling federal funding for vaccination undermines any goal of high coverage for the updated booster.

As of Oct. 26,  a total of 181,913 Nevadans have received their COVID-19 Omicron Bivalent booster, roughly 10% of those eligible to receive the newest booster. That’s compared to 7.3 % of people eligible nationally who have gotten the newest booster, according to the CDC. 

As of Oct. 31, a total of 182,608 Nevadans have received their flu vaccination for the 2022-2023 flu season – 13.5% compared to 14.39% of those eligible for the flu shot in the same time period last year, according to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

“It is a goal of the DHHS to continue to ensure equitable access to vaccines across the state of Nevada,” said Marissa Medeiros, the Immunization Program Public Information Officer for CDC Foundation, in an email. “These vaccines are safe, able to be administered at the same time, and will offer much-needed protection as we head into the colder months, gathering indoors with family to celebrate holidays.”

The flu season started earlier this year, with more hospitalizations for children and older adults. Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 22, the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network, which is used to collect data each flu season, saw the highest number of hospitalizations reported at this time of the season in 10 years, according to the CDC

While it may be too early to know the full impact of the flu season, the predominant virus is H3N2, which has been of higher severity in previous seasons, according to the CDC.

R.S.V., a common respiratory virus, can be serious for infants and older adults and is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia. 

The CDC surveillance showed an increase in R.S.V. detection, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations throughout the U.S. this season with some regions nearing seasonal peaks. 

The three viruses and surge in transmission rates could be mitigated by staying up to date on vaccination. DHHS encourages everyone to stay up to date on their vaccine and flu shots in the state. The availability of COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots and locations can be found at vaccines.gov

For more information go to NVCOVIDFighter.org or call 800-401-0946.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Camalot Todd
Camalot Todd

An award-winning, investigative and enterprise reporter, Camalot Todd has over seven years experience in print, digital, radio and TV journalism. She covered mental and behavioral health in New York for Spectrum News 1 Buffalo through the national service program, Report For America, where she won the Mental Health Advocates of WNY Advocacy Award in 2020 for her coverage on mental health stigma. She also served as an inaugural member of the Report For America Corps Advisory Board Member, 2021-2022. Previously, she reported on community issues in Las Vegas, including a long-term project on underage sex trafficking, for the Las Vegas Sun and its sister publication, Las Vegas Weekly. For the Sun, she wrote a pathbreaking investigative piece called, “Children on the Cusp: The transition from foster care to adulthood is leaving some behind.” The piece won the Nevada Press Association best investigative story of the year and named Camalot the Best Community Reporter of 2017. She also worked as a reporter for KUNV radio and is a graduate of University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Camalot was selected for National Press Foundation Opioid and Addiction Fellow 2021 and led the Syracuse Press Club's Journalism Lab as an educator from 2021-2022.

MORE FROM AUTHOR