EVANSTON — Uinta County is preparing to move into the next sub-groups in its phased approach to administering COVID-19 vaccinations to the public. Individuals in the 1A phase, which largely includes healthcare professionals and emergency crews, have already received their first dose, with some having already received the second dose, of the two-dose Moderna vaccine series. Vaccines have also been administered to those in the first three sub-groups in phase 1B, including individuals age 70 and older, from the 1,500 first doses the county has received thus far.
Registration has now opened for those in the 65-69 age group after the Wyoming Department of Health released an updated prioritization schedule this week. The WDH also released a schedule of the number of doses anticipated to be delivered to each county throughout the month of February. That schedule contains some good news for Uinta County. While shipments previously have been about 200 first doses per week, the February schedule shows anticipated shipments of 400 doses most weeks, for a total of an additional 1,500 first doses throughout the month. Those first doses are in addition to the second doses already allocated for those who have already received a first dose.
Uinta County Public Health Nurse Manager and Incident Team Co-Commander Kim Proffit said she believes some of the increase in dose allocations is due to the coordination and efforts of local healthcare providers, first responders and more who have demonstrated an ability to quickly and efficiently use all doses received in the county.
“I’m really proud of our community and I think the increased allocations are likely related to the county’s ability to get those doses out,” she said during a weekly COVID update on Friday, Jan. 29.
County residents aged 65-69 can now register to receive a first dose of the vaccine at https://tinyurl.com/yzqwh63n. Any residents aged 70 and older who have not yet received a first dose but would like to can also register at the same link. For those without access to a computer or smartphone, and who don’t have someone who can help them with the online registration process, phone registration can be done by calling (307) 789-9203 in Evanston and (307) 787-3800 in the Bridger Valley, though online registration is preferred. If necessary, a lottery system may be utilized to determine who will be the first to receive the vaccine, depending upon the number of people who register and vaccine availability.
Those who register are also being asked to visit uintacounty.com and click on the COVID-19 tab at the top of the page to access additional information and a consent form to receive the vaccination. Printing and completing the consent form in advance will help the clinic run more smoothly.
A press release from Uinta County Public Health stressed that doses of vaccine remain limited, despite the increase in dosages anticipated this month.
“Those selected for vaccination will be notified of the clinic location, time, and date. Clinics are scheduled by appointment only; no walk-ins. As more vaccine is received we will notify of further clinics and do further lotteries as necessary,” reads the release.
The release also stresses that Uinta County Public Health has strictly adhered to the prioritization schedule developed and issued by WDH and thanks the public for patience and understanding as staff work to fairly and efficiently distribute the vaccine.
For those 70 years of age and older who already received a first dose of the vaccine at the large clinics at either the Evanston bus barn or the Mountain View fire hall, second doses will be administered in a manner similar to the first. Those individuals do not need to register again. The plan is to repeat the clinics exactly four weeks later at the same locations and to have individuals come at the same time as the first visit. That means the clinics would be on Monday, Feb. 15, in Evanston, and Friday, Feb. 19, in Mountain View. Reminder messages will be sent out the week prior to those clinics.
In addition to the clinics coordinated by county public health, the Wyoming Veterans Administration is also scheduling vaccination appointments for veterans age 75 and older who receive VA healthcare. A press release from the Sheridan VA Health Care System states that VA staff are directly contacting VA-enrolled veterans to offer appointments as available in service locations, including Evanston. The VA system is utilizing the same Moderna vaccine as is being used elsewhere in Uinta County, necessitating a two-dose series.
There is no specific sign-up process for veterans age 75 and older using the VA system; however, those who would like to share their interest in receiving the vaccine are invited to visit https://tinyurl.com/x5hzt2ib to express that interest. Vaccine doses received and utilized by the VA are not included in the counts of doses per county.
With the updated guidance release from WDH, the county is also planning to begin vaccinating K-12 teachers and school staff in coming weeks. The WDH document lists the 65-69 age group, K-12 teachers and staff and childcare and adult daycare providers in overlapping priority groups, indicating clinics for those populations may be taking place in the same time frame. Clinics to vaccinate K-12 staff will be planned in conjunction with individual school districts.
Following those groups, the WDH document lists public transit employees and individuals with specific health conditions as the next overlapping priority groups. Those health conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, solid organ transplant, sickle cell disease, Down Syndrome and pregnancy, though pregnant women should discuss vaccination with their healthcare provider in advance.
Subsequent sub-groups include grocery store employees; people with certain Medicaid waivers, postal service and delivery employees; those with diabetes, heart conditions, obesity with BMI over 30, immunocompromised individuals and those with severe neurologic conditions; caregivers of those at high risk; and workforce service, port of entry, and legal system employees.
The first details of the 1C phase have also been released, showing that group is likely to include homeless populations, those living in congregate settings like prisons and jails, and other essential critical infrastructure workforce employees.
The WDH has issued a release asking residents to please refrain from attempting to visit another county to get vaccinated, with the rare exception of those who work in a county other than their county of residence and work in a priority setting. The WDH also reminds people that there should be no costs to individuals to receive the vaccine. State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist said, “We want everyone to know you will not be asked to pay fees and do not need insurance to get a vaccine. You may be asked to bring and show your Medicare or other insurance cards so the medical professionals giving the shots can request reimbursement for doing so, but this will not prevent you from receiving the vaccine. If someone promises a vaccine and asks you to pay to receive it, that is likely suspicious activity.”
Harrist also stressed it remains important to continue wearing masks, physically distancing and staying home when ill while vaccination efforts continue.
The Wyoming Information Sharing Platform from the Wyoming Department of Homeland Security reported 99 active cases of COVID-19 in Uinta County as of Monday, Feb. 1.