Vaccination frustration: Local health officials offer insight into distribution

Vaccine availability took center stage at this week’s Good Morning Truckee meeting, as public health officials fielded questions regarding how many COVID-19 vaccines are available and who is eligible to get them.

Tahoe Forest Health System President and CEO Harry Weiss led off Tuesday’s discussion.

According to Weiss, Nevada, Placer, and Washoe counties had a current combined positive test result total of 1,861 on Jan. 18. That number rose to 2,143 by Monday, marking a nearly 300-case increase.

“We’ve been (at) this for about 11 months,” said Weiss on the increase, which he called “remarkable,” while cautioning about a possible fourth COVID-19 surge following the Super Bowl.

On the vaccination front, health officials expressed frustration regarding the amount of vaccines being distributed, stating they have the capability to vaccinate around 200 individuals per day.

“Please be patient with us because the quantity of vaccines is very scarce,” said Weiss. “We’d love to be doing high volume every day, but we just don’t have the shots available.”

Judy Newland, chief operating officer at Tahoe Forest Hospital, stated there is uncertainty week to week on the amount of vaccines that will be distributed to the area, adding that health officials in the area are juggling guidelines between two states and three counties. Newland added that vaccines are distributed at a federal level, and are dispersed by the states, which then hand out vaccines based on county population. For example, Newland said Nevada County, due to its smaller population, has received as few as 100 vaccines a week.

“It’s really important to understand that the counties have oversight of all the vaccine providers and who they vaccinate,” said Newland. “The challenge we’re having, which I think you’ve seen federally, is the allotment. We actually don’t know — we don’t know week to week what allotment we have.”

Nevada and Placer counties have a vaccine clinic located at Sierra College. Appointment availability is based on the number of vaccines allotted along with county guidelines.

To schedule vaccine appointments, Tahoe Forest Health System has links to websites for Nevada County, Placer County, and Washoe County at its website: Nevada County vaccine information can also be obtained by phone by texting “vaccineinfo” to 898211, and in Placer County by texting “placervaccine” to 898211.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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