RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada has added a live chat feature to the state’s main COVID-19 vaccine web site as part of its latest effort to reach out to more people reverse a steady decline in daily vaccinations over the last three weeks, health officials announced Wednesday.
The 14-day average for daily vaccinations statewide has fallen 45% since it hit a peak of 25,016 on April 14. The average of 13,787 as of Tuesday was the first time the number had dropped below 14,000 since mid-February.
As of Tuesday, 46% of all Nevadans 16 and older had received at least their first vaccine shot and 34% are fully vaccinated, state officials said.
The new live chat support at NVCOVIDFighter.org is being staffed by the same team that manages Nevada’s vaccine hotline at 1-800-0946.
“Accessibility has been a cornerstone of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and this step increases digital accessibility,” said Heidi Parker, executive director of Immunize Nevada. She said it’s another tool to reach as many Nevadans as possible and provide them the information they need to find COVID-19 vaccines and appointments.
The chat is available daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. During off hours, users can send an email via the chat and staff will respond w hen they return. The chat agents are equipped with Google Translate to accommodate multiple languages.
The agents have engaged in more than 1,500 chats since the soft launch of the feature on April 23, Parker said. She said the average response time has been 8 seconds.
Karissa Loper, chief of the state Bureau of Child, Family & Community Wellness, said the decline in vaccinations was expected by experts who have been involved for a long time in various immunization efforts. She said the 46% figure is higher than the rate for flu shots during most years.
“I think we are doing a really great job in Nevada,” Lope said. “I think what we are seeing is a need to become more convenient, become more mobile ... to meet people where they are in their own communities.”
Mobile vaccine units have administered COVID-19 shots in remote rural areas and on tribal lands to more than 2,900 people in northern Nevada and 2,100 people in southern Nevada. The units are beginning their round of second doses statewide but also will be offering single-shot doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Loper said the state continues to expand the use of local providers including family physicians to administer shots. More than 97,000 doses have been delivered to 275 private providers in 11 Nevada counties and that number is growing every week, she said.