CHEYENNE, Wyo. — While Wyoming still has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, more people are getting vaccinated as the state deals with a surge in cases and hospitalizations.
Governor Mark Gordon predicted in August that full approval of the Pfizer vaccine would lead some who had been hesitant to get a vaccine to go out and get vaccinated.
In the span of two weeks between August 23, when the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, and Tuesday, September 7, 5,915 people in Wyoming became fully vaccinated, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.
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Seniors have been leading the way in terms of overall vaccination rates. The vaccination rate among seniors 65 years and older has seen a 6.1% jump since the Pfizer vaccines were fully approved. 68.2% of Wyoming seniors were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday.
While Wyoming is seeing near-record COVID-19 hospitalizations, the Wyoming Medical Center says the people who have been showing up in its hospital are younger than earlier in the pandemic. About 90% of the WMC’s patients have been unvaccinated and most are between the age of 20-60.
While the vaccination rate among seniors in Wyoming has jumped by more than 6% since Pfizer was fully approved, the percentage of adults overall who are fully vaccinated has increased at a slower pace.
44.6% of all Wyoming adults 18 years and older have been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday. That is a 1.2% increase since full approval of the Pfizer vaccines.
There has been a more significant increase among adolescents age 12-17. 20.3% of Wyoming adolescents have been fully vaccinated, a 3.5% increase since full Pfizer approval.
Something else that has changed since full Pfizer approval is that at least one in five Wyomingites in every county have been fully vaccinated. That was not the case on August 23, when both Campbell County and Crook County had overall vaccination rates below 20%.
Nearly three in four residents in Teton County have been fully vaccinated, according to the WDH. About one in two people in Albany County have been fully vaccinated. In Natrona County, more than one in three people have been fully vaccinated.
Gordon has said that he will not be issuing any statewide mask or vaccine mandates as he would prefer to leave it up to local school districts and health officials to determine what the best course of action suited to that locality is.
Both Gordon and First Lady Jennie Gordon are fully vaccinated. While he said in August that getting vaccinated is an “intensely personal choice,” Gordon also encouraged people to consider getting vaccinated.
“Get vaccinated if you are willing,” he said.
Wyoming hospitals were dealing with 233 COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, nearing the all-time high of 247 that occurred on Nov. 30, 2020.
The Wyoming Department of Health announced Wednesday that Gordon had allocated $30 million in federal funding to help address staffing challenges at Wyoming hospitals and healthcare facilities as COVID-19 continues to surge.
The funding will be available to help provide staffing relief, support existing healthcare staff and secure traveling medical staff.
“Wyoming’s healthcare system and healthcare workers in every community are feeling the strain of this surge,” Gordon said in Wednesday’s press release. “We need to recognize our healthcare workers’ commitment to caring for our neighbors during the pandemic. They are working extra-long hours and at times having to cover for sick colleagues. These are very stressful times for all of us, but particularly those in the healthcare industry. This is a means to thank them and to try to make sure we can keep them on the job.”
The WDH on Wednesday said that getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 reduces the risk of hospitalization.
“Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that those who are fully-vaccinated have a dramatically reduced risk of requiring hospitalization for a coronavirus infection,” the WDH adds. “To find a vaccine location near you, visit vaccines.gov or call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline at 1-800-232-0233.”
The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.