The Saratoga Sun -

Valley vaccinations begin

First doses of Moderna vaccine given on January 21 at Platte Valley Community Center


January 27, 2021

Joshua Wood

Commissioner Sue Jones speaks to senior residents before they enter the community center for their vaccinations on January 21.

On the morning of January 21, what appeared to be a line for admission formed in front of the Platte Valley Community Center and out into the parking lot. Instead of waiting for a popular musical act or an off-broadway show, however, the line that had formed was for the first round of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

While Phase 1b of the Wyoming Department of Health's vaccine schedule includes frontline essential workers who must interact with the public while unable to physically distance from others, the most critical population are those 70 years of age or older. It was the latter that was standing in line on an overcast day.

The Platte Valley Community Center had temporarily been turned into an efficient vaccine clinic seemingly overnight with the help of Carbon County Public Health and volunteers. One of those volunteers was Commissioner Sue Jones, who stepped outside to explain to the line of Saratoga residents what would happen once the doors were open.

Upon entering the community center, the first 15 people who showed up with their paperwork already filled out were led through the theater to form a line in the west lobby before entering the Great Hall to receive their vaccine. Those who still had to fill out their paperwork, or arrived after the initial 15, waited in the theater until they were informed they could wait in line.

In the Great Hall, chairs were set up on the west and east sides with a series of tables in between. On the west side, people would wait their turn for vaccination. Following their vaccination, they would then wait for 30 minutes on the east side of the Great Hall.

After waiting a half-hour, those who received their vaccine exited the Great Hall through the service hallway and went back through the east lobby. With up to three or four vaccinations at a time being given, the initial line was worked through efficiently. 

According to Emily Kaluzny, Carbon County Public Health, the total number of vaccines administered in the Valley on January 21 was 320. This included both the vaccines given at the Platte Valley Community Center in Saratoga and the Sagebrush Senior Center in Encampment.

In mid-February, Carbon County Public Health will return to Saratoga and Encampment to give residents their second dose of the vaccine.

Unlike other vaccines, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. According to information from the Centers for Disease Control, while many vaccines put a weakened or inactive germ into a person's system, mRNA vaccines "teach" cells to create a protein that will trigger an immune response.

With the mRNA vaccine, which is administered through the upper arm muscle, cells in the body are instructed to create a harmless recreation of the spike protein found on the surface of viruses such as COVID-19. Knowing that these spike proteins don't belong in the system, the body breaks them down and creates antibodies to protect against them.

The end result is that the body has now developed a process to protect against future infections without having to risk the health consequences of contracting COVID-19.

Carbon County Public Health will return to the Valley on February 18 to administer the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. They will be at the Platte Valley Community Center from 9 a.m. to noon and at the Sagebrush Senior Center in Encampment from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.


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