ROCK SPRINGS — Area health care agencies are working organizing a COVID-19 vaccine schedule for Sweetwater County residents. While people who are 70 years and older are beginning to be vaccinated locally along with school district personnel, the next phase of vaccination may not begin until March.
Sweetwater County Public Health is in charge of organizing this effort. Clinics will be made available according to a phased schedule featuring 11 categories designed by the Wyoming Department of Health and as the vaccine becomes available.
Public Health is currently working to vaccinate people in the 1a and 1b categories. Appointments for the week of Jan. 11 were full by 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 12. Public Health is asking people to wait to call until notices are released that appointments are available. People who fall into those categories can call Public Health at 307-922-5390 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to schedule an appointment when they are available.
People are asked not to call Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County about vaccination. The hospital has been receiving a large volume of calls concerning availability of the COVID-19 vaccine. MHSC had been helping Public Health by offering vaccinations to those 70 or older referred by a provider, but going forward, Public Health is in charge of organizing the schedule of who can receive the vaccine and when.
COVID-19 vaccinations are not available to the general public at this time, said Public Health Director Kim Lionberger. Also, due to COVID vaccinations, there will be no regular immunization clinics at Public Health the week of Jan. 11.
“Please be patient,” said Deb Sutton, MHSC public information officer, on Friday. “Know that health care leaders are working to vaccinate everyone who is eligible as soon as the vaccine becomes available at each tier of the Wyoming Department of Health vaccine distribution plan. We do apologize for the inconvenience.”
On Monday morning, Public Health found out that Sweetwater County was going to receive 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine during the week of Jan. 11 in addition to the 300 doses of Moderna vaccine the county was already expecting. Last week, Public Health received the ultra-cold freezer it had ordered that is capable of storing the Pzifer vaccine, Lionberger announced at the bimonthly COVID-19 update for local health officials and elected officials.
Those vaccines will be administered by appointment only during clinics Wednesday and Thursday at the Sweetwater Events Complex as well as clinics for school employees coordinated with local school districts. Wednesday's clinic is full. Some vaccinations may also be available at the Castle Rock Medical Center but must be scheduled through Public Health. Lionberger noted that people will need to be patient when trying to make an appointment since the phone lines will be incredibly busy during the next few days and the answering machine will only hold a certain number of messages.
Public Health is working to offer an online scheduling system. Lionberger anticipates it could be ready by the end of January.
Lionberger estimated that there are between 6,000 to 7,000 people in the county in the 1b category. The county will likely not be ready to move on to the 1c category any earlier than March 1, she said. The Wyoming Department of Health is currently working to complete 1c category information. Local health officials predicted it will include essential workers such as mine, wastewater, and utility personnel along with people with high-risk factors for the coronavirus.
During Monday's meeting, Dr. Brianne Crofts asked those who have administered vaccines so far to comment on any adverse reactions. Kristy Nielson, retired chief nursing officer at the hospital, has been helping with vaccinations at the hospital. She said out of 726 people immunized, one person had a possible reaction. She said the person has had previous reactions to drugs, and the situation did not turn out to be a serious medical problem.
There have been no adverse reactions among those receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at Public Health or at Castle Rock Medical Center.
Any questions regarding vaccines or a vaccine schedule should be directed to Public Health at 307-922-5390. However, Public Health also is currently experiencing a large call volume.
“You may have to leave a voice message with Public Health, which will be returned within a business day,” Lionberger said. “We do not have a waiting list, but will continue to prioritize the vaccines as they become available.”
Watch and listen for vaccination schedule updates from local media; on Public Health, MHSC and Sweetwater Cares Coalition Facebook pages; and by logging on to sweetwatermemorial.com and sweetwatercares.com.