Despite Delays, Wyoming Department Of Health Says Vaccine Distribution Moving Forward

Jan 8, 2021

Army Spc. Angel Laureano holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
Credit U.S. Secretary of Defense

It has been about three weeks since Wyoming received its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Since then, the state has been busy trying to get the vaccine out to the first priority groups.

Once the first vaccine shipments came to Wyoming, the state's department of health and local experts took federal guidance and amended it for the state.

The Wyoming Department of Health's Kim Deti said the state diverged from the national guidance in a few areas.

"I think the national group looked at age 75 and older for phase 1B," said Deti. "In Wyoming, we took a look at our population and said we'd like to go with age 70."

Once the first two priority groups were decided, it was left up to local county health departments to distribute the vaccine to their populations. Most of the state is still distributing the vaccine to the first group that includes medical professionals, law enforcement and school teachers. A few counties will soon begin reaching out to the second group. That includes people over 70 and frontline essential workers.

Out of the COVID-19 vaccines Wyoming has received so far, only 46 percent of it has actually been used.

Deti said there are many reasons for the low number but mainly it comes down to logistics like scheduling and storage requirements. Plus, she said, not everyone who is offered the vaccine is choosing to take it.

"My personal belief is that over time, as more people receive the vaccine, it becomes more familiar. We'll see some of that improve over time as well," she said.

The state is also coordinating with pharmacy chains to help vaccinate residents of many Wyoming nursing homes and assisted living facilities. That effort has already started.