Storage Questions Left Sweetwater County Out of the First Shipment of Pfizer Vaccine

Storage Questions Left Sweetwater County Out of the First Shipment of Pfizer Vaccine

Healthcare professionals at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (MHSC) transfer vials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to the ultra cold freezer last week. MHSC photo

SWEETWATER COUNTY — When the Wyoming Department (WDH) of Health first announced shipments of the COVID-19 Coronavirus vaccine were arriving in Wyoming during the week of December 14-18, it was noted that Sweetwater County was not among the five counties to receive the first doses.

This was notable, as Sweetwater County currently ranks number one in the state for highest positivity rate, which is at 17.4 percent. Many public officials and residents alike were left wondering why Sweetwater County was not receiving the vaccine in the first shipment.

According to the House District 48 Representative Clark Stith, Stephanie Pyle of the WDH said when Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (MHSC) submitted its application in November to be on the vaccine distribution list, the hospital “reported that it did not have adequate freezer capacity to store the vaccine.”

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“As a result, MHSC was left off the original distribution list,” Stith said.

Kim Lionberger, Director of Sweetwater County Community Nursing, said that Wyoming only received 4,875 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first shipment that was to be split 5 ways. Those 975 vaccines could not be broken down into smaller groups.

“There is no way to split the initial 975 doses, and all 975 doses have to go to a county with an ultra cold freezer. The state sent the first five shipments received to the counties that responded first that they were able to house the vaccine in the ultra cold storage,” Lionberger said.

Sweetwater County did receive its first 975 doses last week, and have administered about 325 and counting as of Monday afternoon.

The county will be receiving 400 doses of the Moderna vaccine sometime this week, which means the county will have received a total of 1,375 vaccines by the end of the year.


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