Wyoming receives COVID vaccines
Initial disbursements of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived Monday, approval of more vaccines expected
December 16, 2020
As announcements of vaccines for the coronavirus (COVID-19) began to roll out across the country, many Wyoming residents likely wondered when those vaccines would arrive in the Cowboy State.
During the December 1 meeting of the Board of Carbon County Commissioners (BOCCC), County Health Officer Wayne Couch announced that the vaccines were forthcoming and that they would be distributed to frontline workers first. On December 11, the Wyoming Department of Health officially announced the distribution of vaccines.
According to information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the only vaccine currently authorized and recommended for use in the United States is Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Three other vaccines are either currently undergoing or preparing to undergo Phase 3 clinical trials. Those vaccines are; AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
In a press release from the Wyoming Department of Health, Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state health officer and state epidemiologist, described the authorization of the vaccine by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “exciting”.
“Knowing we have safe and effective vaccines arriving is like seeing light at the end of a tunnel,” Harrist said. “We have an end in sight at this point, which was not true for many months during this pandemic. We have hope and a reminder that this situation is for now and not forever.”
Harrist added in the press release that initial doses of the vaccine would be limited. With that in mind, priorities would be set to “ensure the early doses reach those who need it most”.
As of December 11, the initial doses of the vaccine had been ordered and Wyoming was set to receive 4,875 doses divided into five packages of 975 doses each. Those packages would also be delivered to public health departments in Casper and Cheyenne as well as hospitals in Cody, Jackson and Gillette.
As of Monday afternoon, the Casper Star-Tribune reported that vaccines had been delivered to public health departments in Casper and Cheyenne as planned.
In the Friday press release, the Wyoming Department of Health stated that as the shipments continued and vaccines from other companies were authorized, the amount of available doses for use in Wyoming would continue to grow.
While the Wyoming Department of Health is ordering COVID-19 vaccines with shipments going directly to hospital partners and local health departments, separate amounts of the vaccine are expected to be provided directly by the federal government to tribal health clinics, military bases and United States Veterans Affairs facilities.
Additionally, a “special, targeted effort” involving pharmacy chains is expected in the coming weeks to help vaccinate residents of skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities in Wyoming.
The Wyoming Department of Health also announced that Wyoming residents should not expect to be charged for the vaccines when they become widely available. According to the department of health, those healthcare professionals offering the vaccine will be able to later bill insurers for administration costs and to seek federally funded reimbursement for vaccination of uninsured individuals.
“Our planning is intended to ensure we make the most of any and all vaccine doses we receive as this is an important resource for our state and communities,” said Stephanie Pyle, Public Health Division senior administrator. “Enrolling providers, distributing vaccines and tracking vaccine doses are not new activities for us. Together with our partners, we do this every day. We have a great network of partners and robust data systems. In short, we’re ready to go.”
More information about Wyoming’s pandemic vaccine planning can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/immunization/wyoming-covid-19-vaccine-information/. More information about COVID-19 vaccines from the CDC can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html.