I have heard the suggestion that we should give January of 2021 back to 2020 and start 2021 in this month of February as January presented so many of the same challenges we have had to confront. February does in fact hold promise for beginning the process of recovery from all the hardships and stress the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted on us.
But it will be a long recovery process. Fire Chief Will Gray and Acting City Manager Michael Mays have enacted a plan to provide free vaccinations against the virus that has already provided hundreds of doses to our residents most at risk. This first group are those age 70 and above.
As I write this column a week prior to it being published, more than 700 residents have received the first of two doses. Health care workers, first responders and assisted living facility residents were the first people to receive the vaccine and many have now had the second dose to achieve the highest level of resistance to the effects of the disease.
The city staff has begun accepting appointments for the next group of people in the age 65 to 69 range. These groups are determined in the guidelines for vaccinations first as it has been determined senior citizens are most at risk for severe complications from the virus. More information on the guidelines can be found at www.bcnv.org/COVID-19.
As we move forward with the vaccinations to include an increasing number of our residents, I would ask everyone to be mindful of the reality of what we need to accomplish. The Moderna vaccine that is being used in Boulder City requires two doses given four weeks apart to be effective. The vaccine also must be kept at very cold temperatures until shortly before being administered.
This requires planning to ensure everyone receives the necessary two doses and that doses are not wasted. As each group of people receives the first dose, appointments are being made for those same people to come back in four weeks for the second dose.
During the period the second doses are being administered, the capacity to begin administering the doses to additional groups will be limited. I point this fact out in the hopes people will understand it will be some time before everyone wanting the vaccine will be able to schedule appointments.
It is obvious there are residents that are younger than age 65 with other health conditions that increase their risk of severe complications as well. Those people will have the next priority to receive the vaccine after senior citizens.
The reality is also that there is a limited amount of the vaccine at this time. The vaccine is being distributed in Clark County with a population of 2.27 million residents. The population of Boulder City is 16,000. I am sure we all have heard of the issues with the distribution of the vaccine nationally. Our city staff has proven the ability to put shots in arms as the vaccine doses becomes available. As a result, we are being allocated the number of vaccine doses that tracks with our ability to provide the shots. We are currently able to provide this service to our local residents first.
As the number of people in Boulder City still needing the vaccine decreases we will join with Clark County and other cities to provide the vaccine to as many people as possible. Our priority at this time is our local residents but in order to control this terrible disease, it is necessary to have it provided regionally and nationally as we move ahead.
Many of us have suffered from this pandemic in many ways. For the next few months we will need to remain vigilant by continuing to wear masks, wash our hands well and frequently and maintain social distancing in public places. Patience will indeed be a virtue.
Lastly, the fire department continues to provide free testing. Appointments are no longer needed for testing of local residents Monday through Thursday between 8 a.m. and noon. Rapid tests are now being use to provide results in less than 30 minutes.
Please see www.bcnv.org/COVID-19 for details and be safe Boulder City.
Kiernan McManus is mayor of Boulder City. He is a native of Boulder City first elected to City Council in 2017.