FALLON, Nev. – Pickup truck drivers motor up to a white trailer in a parking lot on Fallon Paiute-Shoshone land in Nevada's high desert and within a few moments they're handed forms to sign, jabbed with coronavirus vaccine and sent on their way.
The pop-up clinic 60 miles east of Reno is one of 28 locations in the state where the Federal Emergency Management Agency has dispatched mobile vaccination units to ensure people in far-flung rural areas and one stop-light towns can get inoculated.
It's one of the tactics health officials are using across the country to counter waning interest in vaccinations. In tiny towns, churches, ballparks, strip clubs and even marijuana dispensaries, officials are setting up shop and offering incentives to entice people as the nation struggles to reach herd immunity.
In Nevada, health officials acknowledge they're unlikely to hit their initial goal of vaccinating 75% of the population believed necessary to reach herd immunity.
Ironically, their push in northern Nevada is headquartered at the Reno Livestock Events Center, where 65-year-old Dan Lavely and others are showing up for shots.
Lavely said he teared up while thanking the nurses who vaccinated him.
“I told them I was just so thankful that they were volunteering their time to help get us back to normal so I can go shop at the mall or go to the beach at Lake Tahoe,” said Lavely, who works at a big box store in neighboring Sparks.
Waiting to get vaccinated had nothing to do with safety concerns or distrust of the government, he said.
“It was a scheduling deal. Plus, my middle name is procrastinator,” Lavely said.
Two FEMA mobile trailers have meandered through Nevada to towns without pharmacies, clinics or other vaccination sites, giving doctors, nurses and National Guardsmen a first-hand look at rural and tribal communities where finding vaccinations has been difficult.
“That's our philosophy: It doesn't make any difference if there are two (people) nor 200,” said Peggy Franklin, a volunteer nurse who has traveled alongside a FEMA trailer to Fallon and other towns.
The clinics have delivered 7,600 shots during two tours of Nevada and have also been used in Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky and other states.
Variants to go by Greek alphabet
The World Health Organization is announcing a new nomenclature for the COVID-19 variants that were previously – and somewhat uncomfortably – known either by their technical letter-number codes or by the countries in which they first appeared.
Hoping to strike a fair and more comprehensible balance, WHO said it will now refer to the most worrisome variants – known as “variants of concern” – by letters in the Greek alphabet.
So the first such variant of concern, which first appeared in Britain and can be also known as B.1.1.7, will be known as the “alpha” variant.
The second, which turned up in South Africa and has been referred to as B.1.351, will be known as the “beta” variant.
A third that first appeared in Brazil will be called the “gamma” variant and a fourth that first turned up in India the “delta” variant.
Future variants that rise to “of concern” status will be labeled with subsequent letters in the Greek alphabet.
Peru sees major surge in deaths
Peru announced a sharp increase in its COVID-19 death toll, saying there have been more than 180,000 fatalities since the pandemic hit the country early last year.
The announcement was made in the presidential palace during the presentation of a report by a working group commissioned to analyze and update the death toll.
The results of the study put the new toll at 180,764 in a population of about 32.6 million, compared to recent data indicating that 69,342 people had died from COVID-19.