Department of Health: 'we’re ready to go' | Big Horn Basin Media

Department of Health: ‘we’re ready to go’

Written by on December 14, 2020

With authorization of the first FDA approved Covid-19 vaccine, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is rolling out its efforts to distribute free, safe and effective vaccines across the state.

State health officer and epidemiologist Dr. Alexia Harrist, called the vaccine’s authorization “exciting” and noted other vaccines are also under consideration for authorization.

“Knowing we have safe and effective vaccines arriving is like seeing light at the end of a tunnel,” she said in a press release Friday. “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.”

The first vaccine shipments are expected to arrive in Wyoming this week with an initial 4,875 doses divided into five packages of 975 doses each. According to a press release, the packages will be delivered to public health departments in Casper and Cheyenne as well as hospitals in Cody, Jackson and Gillette.

Health officials noted as shipments continue and vaccines from other companies are authorized, the amount of available doses dedicated to use within Wyoming will continue to grow.

The press released stated that “Healthcare workers involved in direct patient care and vulnerable residents of Wyoming’s long-term care facilities are among the first groups targeted to receive the new vaccine. Two doses received three to four weeks apart will provide the highest level of protection.”

However, before COVID-19 vaccines can be given to any Wyoming resident, it will need approval from the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. They are expected to review the vaccine very soon. The committee advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on immunizations.

A targeted effort involving pharmacy chains to help vaccinate Wyoming’s nursing home and assisted living residents is planned in the coming weeks.

“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 with WDH.

Dr. Alexia Harrist highlighted the importance of continuing to follow the department’s key prevention strategies of staying home when ill except to seek medical care, maintaining physical distancing with people from other households as much as possible and wearing cloth face masks as recommended. “Supplies will continue to arrive over the coming months, but most Wyoming residents will be asked to be patient and stay on track a little longer,” she said.

Getting vaccinated will be free; people receiving the vaccines will not be asked to pay any fees. Healthcare professionals offering the vaccine will later be able to bill insurers for administration costs and to seek federally funded reimbursement for vaccination of uninsured individuals.

Pyle said, “we have a great network of partners and robust data systems. In short, we’re ready to go.”

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