COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives in Sweetwater County; 130 Hospital Workers Vaccinated

COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives in Sweetwater County; 130 Hospital Workers Vaccinated

A hospital worker is among the first to get the Pfizer vaccine. Photo courtesy of Deb Sutton.

ROCK SPRINGS — A COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Sweetwater County. The Wyoming Department of Health issued 975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Vaccination of frontline workers at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County began immediately.

“We did not want to wait,” said MHSC Pathologist Dr. Cielette Karn. “There are people who want to get vaccinated now. There are really a lot of people wanting to get going on this.”

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MHSC ICU Nurse Weston Turner was the first person in Sweetwater County to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination.

“I feel honored to be part of such a momentous occasion,” Turner said. “It’s all part of helping in the process of finding a cure for COVID.”

Turner, who has worked for the hospital just three days, said the shot didn’t hurt, but “it would have been better with a beer.”

Tiffany Uranker Webb, an emergency room nurse who has worked for the hospital for 11 years, said she was getting the vaccine because of her mom, who has cancer.

“I think everyone needs to get vaccinated in order to keep everyone safe,” Webb said. “If you can be part of the solution and not part of the problem, that’s best.”

Urologist Dr. Cody Christensen, the first doctor in the county to receive the vaccine, said he wanted to be vaccinated as soon as possible in an effort to keep his patients safe.

“I see a lot of patients every day,” Christensen said. “I’m doing this mainly for their protection.”

Surgical Technician Jessica Macy said making the decision to be vaccinated was a little nerve-wracking at first. She said social media has spread a lot of untruths, and she knew she wouldn’t find the answers there. Instead, she turned to her colleagues.

“I looked to my fellow co-workers, talked to them and decided to do it,” she said. “It’s very exciting.”

Christensen said he would tell anyone leery of receiving the vaccine to follow the science and the data.

Medical Assistant LeAnn Randall said that’s exactly what she did. After looking into the science behind it, she wasn’t at all afraid to roll up her sleeve.

Registered Nurse Sarah Christensen and Anesthesiologist Dr. Steven Croft both said they have not had COVID-19 and wanted to get the vaccine as soon as possible.

“I’ve gotten this far, give me the vaccine,” Sarah Christensen said.

They were among the first in a long line of people at Sweetwater Memorial who lined up Tuesday afternoon to get the first of two doses of the vaccine. Within about four hours, about 130 hospital workers were vaccinated.

The vaccine arrived late morning Tuesday in a specially designed, temperature-controlled thermal shipping container. Pfizer uses dry ice to maintain the recommended storage temperature conditions of minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to 10 days unopened. It is now being stored in an ultra-low-temperature freezer at Sweetwater Memorial.

Of the 975 doses received, 75 percent are set aside for Sweetwater Memorial, which also will coordinate a vaccination schedule with agencies such as EMS, fire and police personnel. The other 25 percent are for use by Castle Rock Medical Center and Sweetwater County Public Health, which also is coordinating a vaccination schedule with other agencies.

“There is coordination between entities that everyone in that 1A group is taken care of,” said Public Health Director Kim Lionberger. “We also will coordinate a vaccine schedule as we move into the next phases.”

Sweetwater County also expects to receive a shipment of Moderna vaccines. Both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines require two shots: a priming dose, followed by a booster shot. The interval between Moderna doses is 28 days; for the Pfizer vaccine, it’s 21 days.


What to do if you feel sick: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and are showing symptoms, please call your primary care provider or seek medical attention.

Please follow these tips to slow the spread of this virus:

  • Follow Public Health Orders
  • Practice social distancing of 6 feet or more.
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public settings, especially when physical distancing of at least 6 feet isn’t available.
  • Stay home when sick and avoid other people unless you need medical attention.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Older people and those with health conditions that mean they have a higher chance of getting seriously ill should avoid close-contact situations.
  • Long-term care and healthcare facilities should follow guidelines for infection control and prevention.

For current news, updates, closures and resources, please visit our COVID-19 Coronavirus page here.