SWEETWATER COUNTY — So far, Sweetwater County has administered around 3,200 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Sweetwater County Public Health Officer Dr. Jean Stachon.
During an informational COVID-19 meeting with local health professionals, elected officials and members of the media, Dr. Stachon said Sweetwater County is one of the counties leading the state in receiving and administering the vaccine.
According to Dr. Stachon, Sweetwater County has administered all of its doses of its vaccine and is waiting for more, while the state’s average is about 68 percent administration. Sweetwater County has already administered 50 percent of the second doses it has received, while the state’s average is around 22 percent.
There are only two other counties in the state that have received and administered more vaccine doses than Sweetwater County, Stachon said. Both Natrona and Laramie counties have received around 7,000 doses of the vaccine.
Sweetwater County Public Health Director Kim Lionberger said, “We have administered all of our first doses that we have received in our county to date.”
“Our only problem is we are not getting more vaccine,” Dr. Stachon said.
The majority of vaccine is being distributed by public health and Castle Rock Medical Center (CRMC). Lionberger said they cannot do more immunizations than the amount of vaccines they are receiving. Rock Springs is receiving about two-thirds of the vaccine, and Castle Rock in Green River is receiving one-third of the vaccine that comes to Sweetwater County.
The Moderna vaccine is a little bit easier to deal with because it’s easy to store and it comes in 10 doses, Lionberger said. With Pfizer, it has to be used within six hours of opening it and the amount of doses varies per vile.
As for side effects, Lionberger said those receiving second doses seem to experience more side effects than with the first doses. Some of those side effects include fever, body aches, and chills.
Currently, public health is not scheduling anymore vaccination appointments for January because all of the vaccine is already scheduled for appointments. After receiving the first shot, a second appointment is scheduled at that appointment.
Public health could administer 96 doses an hour at the Sweetwater Events Complex if they had enough vaccine to do so, which is about 1,000 doses a day, Lionberger said. However, they are not receiving that much vaccine.
We could easily do a lot more than we are right now.~Sweetwater County Public Health Director Kim Lionberger
Lionberger said the events complex is scheduled for two vaccination clinics each week, however, they went through their entire amount of vaccine in four hours last week.
“My hope is we could get more vaccine and do these big clinics,” Dr. Stachon said.
Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County Incident Commander for the hospital’s COVID-19 Preparedness Team Kim White said all three facilities have the capability to administer a lot of vaccine in one day, but they don’t have enough doses of the vaccine. They figured between public health, Castle Rock and the hospital, they could administer between 2,000 and 2,500 doses a day.
Public health is still working on an online scheduling system, however the state is also working on one so they are holding off until the state releases theirs, Lionberger said.
Castle Rock CEO Bailie Dockter said they are still taking calls for vaccination appointments and their process is similar to public health’s process.
CRMC Dr. Connie Fauntleroy said they have more than 200 people on their wait list and once phase 1b criteria opens up they will be busy.
Lionberger said they are still waiting on who will be added to the 1b category, but she anticipates it to include residents who are 65 and older and those with certain medical conditions. She also thinks it will open up to more groups, such as judges and court personnel. She anticipates receiving more information on who will be added to the phase 1b group later this week.
So far, about 350 employees from Sweetwater County School District No. 1 and 125 from Sweetwater County School District No. 2 have received the vaccine. Some are still on the list when more vaccine arrives. The districts are in the phase 1b category and make up a large portion of it. Those who are over 70 years old also make up a big portion of this phase group.
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