Vaccine implementation update

January 14, 2021

This message was sent to students, faculty and staff at the University of Nevada, Reno.

As we look toward the start of the spring 2021 semester, we have genuine reason to feel hopeful. In Nevada, vaccines are starting to be distributed, including in Washoe County, although the process, as in many states around the country, has been slow. The situation is expected to pick up momentum soon. Vaccine distribution is expected to increase and for the first time since the pandemic began in March, we can start to look toward a future resembling where we once were.

This process still requires flexibility, cooperation and patience. Even with vaccines, the commitment of everyone at our University to adhere to all public health guidelines, including wearing a facial covering, social distancing and handwashing, remains a must. We must also realize that doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are still limited in Washoe County. We continue to work in partnership with the State of Nevada and Washoe County to distribute vaccines, as they are made available to us, to the members of our University community.

The State of Nevada announced this week it has adopted a new approach to more efficiently coordinate vaccine distribution. The order in which Nevadans will receive the COVID-19 vaccine is determined by the state’s vaccination playbook. The third version of the playbook, the most recent, was released on January 11. As outlined in the “NV COVID Playbook Version 3 (pages 2-3),” [link points to external PDF] once Tier 1’s Phase 1a – Healthcare Workforce and Support – is completed, vaccinations will occur concurrently in two “lanes,” which will include “Workforce” in one lane and the “General Population” in another lane. The Playbook further states that, “The population groups in each lane should be vaccinated in priority order.”

Late last week the University sent a voluntary email survey to more than 2,100 eligible employees to ascertain their interest as members of what was then defined as the “Tier 2” category for NSHE frontline workers in receiving the vaccine. We received a strong response. Nearly 90 percent of our employees with regular on-campus and public-facing duties indicated their willingness to receive the vaccine – thank you for the quick response to this very important survey. Awareness, understanding and motivation to receive the vaccine are obviously very high among our employees. See the new Vaccine Information section on the University’s coronavirus information page for more information.

Given this encouraging response, we still need to temper expectations. There are still unknowns and variables that we are continually adapting to, such as the amount of vaccine allocated to the county and distribution logistics. We will know more soon regarding what our weekly allocation will be and how it will be distributed to the individuals who were placed in the Tier 2/Frontline NSHE employee classification. We will be sure to share more information as it becomes available.

Patience and flexibility — along with our inherent optimism for our future — have characterized the response of our faculty, staff and students throughout this challenging journey thus far. These attributes will need to continue to be our watchwords going forward. Thank you for all of your efforts to further our mission, and for keeping the health and well-being of all of our people at the forefront of everything that you are doing.

Thank you for the hope that you hold for our future. Protect the Pack.

Sincere regards,

Brian Sandoval