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Booster shots and a falling infection rate aid Southern Nevada's pandemic fight

Pfizer was the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive approval for booster shots.
Associated Press

Pfizer was the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive approval for booster shots.

With the availability of COVID-19 booster shots and a falling coronavirus infection rate in Southern Nevada, has a corner been turned in the pandemic?

On Monday, Clark County’s test positivity rate fell into the moderate category for the first time since the latest spike in the pandemic began in mid-summer.

That followed last month’s federal approval of booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals over 65 or in high-risk categories, with other drugmakers seeking their own OKs.

“We do find that this particular booster ... a large range of people that would be eligible for it,” said Sarah Lugo, community health nurse supervisor for the Southern Nevada Health District, adding that people who suffer from asthma, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic ailments might be eligible for the vaccine whatever age they are.

“We're looking at CDC recommendations for occupations,” Lugo said. “They're looking at first responders, education staff, food and agricultural workers, manufacturing workers, corrections workers, U.S. Postal Service, public transit grocery store, so it covers a wide umbrella of people,” she said. “And what we learned from before was that a lot of people fall under these umbrellas in different aspects of their jobs.”

Epidemiologist Brian Labus, an associate professor in the UNLV School of Public Health said, in general, a booster shot “basically just improves the ability of the immune system.”

“The way a vaccine works is it gives you a preview of the virus before you actually get infected with it, so your immune system can respond more quickly,” Labus told State of Nevada. “A booster just gives it another chance to help improve that response.”

Labus said vaccination rates continue to improve on the UNLV campus, which is imposing proof of vaccination for students, faculty, and staff.

“By the end of this semester, basically, everyone on campus is going to be vaccinated,” he said.

Sarah Lugo, community health nurse supervisor, Southern Nevada Health District; Brian Labus, epidemiologist and assistant professor, UNLV School of Public Health

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Zachary Green is the Coordinating Producer and a Reporter for KNPR's State of Nevada Program. He reports on Clark County, minority affairs, health, real estate, business, and gardening. You'll occasionally hear Zachary Green reporting and fill-in hosting on the State of Nevada program.