vaccines

Federal health officials are recommending a “pause” in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after six women who received it reported developing a rare blood clotting disorder.

The White House recently announced that it would not create a federal “vaccine passport” requirement, or proof that you’ve gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. Even so, leaders in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah have rejected such requirements, using everything from denunciations to executive orders to planned legislation.


Department of Defense photo by Lisa Ferdinando

All Wyoming residents ages 16 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

This is the second in a two-part series about the vaccine rollout in Indian Country. Part one looks at the success of the rollout on rural reservations.

 

 

This is the first in a two-part series about the vaccine rollout in Indian Country. Part two looks at the challenges of vaccinating our region's urban Native population. 

 

As health officials battle vaccine hesitancy and a reluctance to follow safety guidelines, they could turn to employers for help. 


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COVID-19 vaccinations in the state have been proceeding at different rates in every county. Albany County is currently on Group 1C, which includes journalists. Wyoming Public Radio's Ivy Engel takes us along to her first vaccine appointment.

windriver.care

On March 20, the Wind River Family and Community Health Care is holding another mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Riverton. To bring people in, the clinic is entering everyone who gets vaccinated in a drawing for gift cards.

Polls show Americans are increasingly interested in getting vaccinated against covid-19, but such surveys are largely national, leaving a big question: When the vaccines become available to the general public, will enough people get it in your county, city or neighborhood to keep your community safe?

Health officials hope the newly approved Johnson and Johnson vaccine will accelerate progress in vaccinating rural and homebound residents in the Mountain West. But there’s some unnecessary confusion over the shot’s efficacy.

Vaccine appointment frustration is pretty common these days. And because of challenges with hospital systems, a lot of people are turning to pharmacies to get their COVID-19 vaccine. However, it's still a pain to track down information on every pharmacy's website.


Over the weekend, the FDA approved a third COVID-19 vaccine. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe disease, promises to boost inoculation rates in Mountain West states, including rural areas. 

Diane Huntress, 74, lives in Denver and says trying to get a COVID shot for her and her husband David is like applying for a job.

“I can't talk to anyone," she said. "There's no phone number and all the emails we get say, ‘Do not reply.’ And the problem is, where can I go, can I get there, and when are they going to have it?”

She says vaccines take up all the oxygen among her social circle, too: "I can't see anybody, an acquaintance on Zoom without the question, ‘Have you gotten the vaccine yet?’”

Latino and Black people are generally more vulnerable to COVID-19, yet they remain far less likely to have received a vaccine, according to the latest demographic data from the CDC.

Cassidy Enloe

A company called CellDrop Biotech is part of a $354,000 grant taking on the task of creating a faster and more accurate rapid test for COVID-19.

U.S. Secretary of Defense

February has brought a couple of changes to Wyoming's COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Even with more doses of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine delivered this month, State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist told Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska that the biggest challenge is the state not having enough vaccines.

Jenni Wildcat

Since December, Wind River Cares has been distributing the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Distribution is now happening at Great Plains Hall in Arapaho to allow for social distancing while the health care workers administer the vaccines.

Wyoming Department of Health

For the past month, two COVID-19 vaccines have been available in Wyoming and there have been two priority groups that the Department of Health designated.

The first were health care providers and law enforcement. The second included those over the age of 70, correctional staff and funeral service practitioners.

But now Wyoming state health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist said they have expanded the second priority group.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature is planning a hybrid session in March that will be both remote and in-person after the governor and lawmakers agreed to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to interested legislators and other key players.

Credit: Bastian Weltjen / Adobe Stock

Albany County is opening COVID-19 vaccines to the second priority group this week. That includes search and rescue staff as well those who are over 80. It is the last county to open to this group and the only one not opening up to 70 and over yet.

Department of Defense photo by Lisa Ferdinando

For almost a year, Susie Scott hasn't been able to volunteer or see her children without a mask for longer than five minutes.

"That human touch is, I don't care who you are, everybody needs that," said Scott.

Pixabay, Public Domain

The pandemic has made the position of county public health officer more than just a part-time job: it has become political. So far, two officers in Wyoming have been removed from their positions and one has resigned. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska spoke with Washakie County's public officer, who did the work for ten years until he was removed by the commission this past fall. Dr. Ed Zimmerman said before the pandemic, the position was relatively easy.

Updated 5:06 p.m. ET

On Friday afternoon, President-Elect Joe Biden shared a detailed plan to tackle the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, promising to fight the pandemic with "the full strength of the federal government."

In a speech in Delaware, Biden laid out his five-part plan for how to speed up the vaccination campaign: Open up vaccine eligibility to more people; create more vaccination sites; increase vaccine supply; hire a vaccination workforce; and launch a large-scale public education campaign.

Updated at 8:37 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden outlined his plans for economic relief from the coronavirus crisis on Thursday, citing the need for a more robust vaccination plan as well as for additional direct payments to American families to help recover the U.S. economy. His plan, called the American Rescue Plan, is expected to cost $1.9 trillion.

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During Teton County's weekly COVID-19 update, St. John's Health CEO Paul Beupre said the vaccine progress is going pretty smoothly in the county. Yet, he said the state is not receiving as many vaccine doses as it should be, according to the amount of vaccine the federal government has purchased.

Natrona County Health

Starting this Wednesday, January 13, residents of Natrona County 70 or older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The opening in eligibility marks the Casper-Natrona County Health Department's (CNCHD) move to the next phase of its vaccination rollout.

Credit: Bastian Weltjen / Adobe Stock

About a third of Americans living in rural areas say they probably or definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

When the COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will partner with retail pharmacies such as Costco and Walgreen to help distribute them. But a new analysis of rural counties finds that as many as 750 counties don't have one of those pharmacies.

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.

Melodie Edwards

Right when the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was approved, the federal government started shipping boxes to states, and the Moderna vaccine was only a week behind. Since then Wyoming has received over 25,000 doses, but only 35 percent of those have been administered as of January 7.

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