GUEST COLUMN:

We can light up Las Vegas by getting vaccinated

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Wade Vandervort

People wait in line to get a COVID-19 vaccination at UNLV, Monday, April 5, 2021.

Las Vegas is a different place these days. The Strip is getting some activity again, but gamblers and other revelers are still social distancing and wearing masks. Small businesses and restaurants are eager to fully reopen as COVID-19 cases drop drastically. And the Las Vegas families that make the city tick are beginning to go out again, even those with high-risk conditions, as they become fully vaccinated.

Our sacrifices are finally paying off. The state’s case numbers are dropping, and hospitalizations are at their lowest rate since the Nevada Hospital Association began tracking them for COVID-19. Our hard-won progress is bringing much-deserved relief to the dedicated health care workers who have given their all to save lives over many, many months.

It would be impossible to express the gratitude Nevadans feel for their local hospitals. This pandemic has reoriented most of us toward what’s important in our lives — our health and the time we spend with the people we care about. Although we all knew that community hospitals were essential in keeping Nevada’s families, community and workforce healthy, COVID-19 has underscored just how much we rely on them. Hopefully, we can carry this appreciation forward and invest more in our medical infrastructure and public health measures down the road.

It’s important to realize, though, that we Nevadans cannot let our guard down yet. More transmissible variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that cause COVID-19 are in the United States. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has called for lifting restrictions and reopening our economy. It would be a shame if a lack of continued vigilance caused us to lose this opportunity and backslide into another crisis.

To keep moving in the right direction, we must accelerate vaccination by every means possible. Already, over 12% of Nevadans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Both doses are required to maximize immunity, but even the first shot is protective. Thus, the early stages of vaccine rollout are likely contributing to our COVID-19 caseload reductions. And as we grow the vaccination numbers, we are steadily driving out COVID-19 from our communities.

Every person who receives a vaccine takes us one step closer to herd immunity. The only thing standing in our way is misinformation. We cannot permit unfounded rumors about vaccine dangers to deter our friends and neighbors from getting their shots. We must spread truth.

Here’s what every Nevadan should know. The approved vaccines were tested on tens of thousands of people and have since been safely administered to millions more around the globe. Vaccines slash COVID-19 mortality to zero and essentially eliminate severe cases as well. These vaccines are a boon for our hospitals and a shroud of safety for us all. The exceptional protection they offer comes at the cost of only mild side effects, like a one-day case of the flu, in some patients, usually after the second dose.

A few hours of feeling “off,” as some people report, is a small price to pay to bring Las Vegas back to life. We have lost too many neighbors, too many jobs, too much time we’d have otherwise spent with friends and loved ones. The key to ending the pandemic is at hand. All we have to do is get vaccinated and then stand back and watch as our city lights up.

Rich Robledo is the founder of Acclaim Real Estate.