This opinion piece was written and submitted by Michael Ceballos Wyoming Department of Health Director
A few months ago, the arrival in Wyoming of the first vaccines meant to prevent infection with COVID-19 was exciting. We’d been through some tough times with high case counts, hospitalizations and deaths due to the pandemic. But we now could see a positive path forward.
At first our supplies were very limited, which meant we had to target those residents of Wyoming who were most likely to be infected and most likely to experience serious illness related to COVID-19. It may have been frustrating for some and confusing for others, but it was necessary.
We’re facing a very different situation now. Our vaccine supplies have grown and all Wyoming residents who are 16 or older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination across the state.
The Wyoming Department of Health strongly encourages everyone who is eligible to get free, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. If you were in an earlier priority group but haven’t been vaccinated yet, please don’t think you have missed your chance.
Together with our county public health partners, healthcare providers in our communities and growing numbers of pharmacies across the state, we have made vaccines easy to find and receive locally. Many individuals are working long hours to provide appointments, walk-in clinics, and larger vaccination clinics to give every eligible person in Wyoming the opportunity to receive a vaccine. Look in your community for the best option for you.
We want you to understand vaccination is important for all people who are eligible, including those who are younger and healthy. Anyone can get sick due to COVID-19 and it’s hard to know how each one of us will be affected. Anyone can get the virus and pass it on to someone who could struggle.
We have seen that COVID-19 illnesses can be serious and cause death. In addition, some people experience long-term conditions that severely impact their quality of life.
For people who have had COVID-19 and previously recovered, vaccination is also recommended. COVID-19 infection does not provide lifelong immunity.
We want you to know COVID-19 vaccines have been held to high safety standards. No major safety steps were skipped to develop them.
Many people have questions about the authorized COVID-19 vaccines, which is understandable. We’ve included some great resources online to provide information and to help answer those questions and encourage people to seek more information from reputable sources such as our department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For our department’s website, visit www.health.wyo.gov.
It’s important to know COVID-19 vaccinations are free for everyone, regardless of whether they have insurance coverage.
Vaccines are our most effective tool to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of Wyoming residents have been vaccinated since those first exciting days in December when the vaccines first arrived. We are already seeing fewer hospitalization, fewer outbreaks in nursing homes and similar facilities and fewer deaths. So, yes, COVID-19 vaccines are effective.
Vaccination helps keep you and your family safe and helps us each return to what we love. To put this pandemic behind us, we truly do need to outsmart COVID-19.