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Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Wyoming Department of Health recommends boosters for specific populations

A medical professional prepares an individual's arm for the COVID-19 vaccine shot.
Public Domain

The Wyoming Department of Health is recommending booster vaccine shots for vulnerable populations.

Those vulnerable populations include those most at risk of hospitalization and death from the coronavirus. That includes people 65 and older, as well as those living and working in long-term care settings and those with serious medical conditions.

A booster is also recommended for any adult who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine specifically more than two months ago.

The Wyoming Department of Health made these recommendations Friday, October 22, following approval for boosters from the FDA and CDC.

Christine Porter, a University of Wyoming public health expert, said vaccines are effective at avoiding the worst outcomes of a COVID-19 diagnosis.

"Vaccines are not to prevent disease, per se," Porter said. "They are to prevent hospitalization and death or long-term health issues."

But Porter said getting people who are still unvaccinated their first shot would be a more effective public policy than giving out boosters. That's a sentiment shared by the World Health Organization, which recognizes that richer countries have had an unfair advantage when it comes to vaccine distribution.

"We would be more protected by offering a first round of vaccines to people, say, in Mexico, or pretty much anywhere else in the world, because the pandemic is global," she said. "And how other people are doing in our parts of the world affects us, too."

Better yet, Porter added, enabling poorer countries to build and maintain their own vaccine development infrastructure would help with this and future outbreaks.

However, it still makes sense for individuals in Wyoming to get a booster if they feel they should have one, Porter said. Taking a booster dose that the health department already has won't take it away from anyone else.

The FDA and CDC also approved a mix-and-match approach — meaning you can get any of the available vaccines as a booster, whether you started with Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson.

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