GOSHEN COUNTY – Goshen County Public Health will partner with Banner Health Clinic in administering COVID-19 vaccines starting next week.
GCPH Emergency Response Coordinator Heather Saul said Banner Health in Torrington will receive a portion of the 300 Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses scheduled to come in from the Wyoming Department of Health to vaccinate Goshen County School District No. 1 employees, who are part of vaccine priority group 1b. GCPH vaccinated 58 school employees on Feb. 4, and there are roughly 167 on a waiting list.
GCPH is currently working through Goshen County’s population of adults who are 65 years of age and older.
“This partnership allows us to start working through these priorities faster so we can start working with the other groups that need (the vaccine),” Saul said. “There are some who have health conditions who need the vaccine, and since we’re not at that subgroup yet, getting teachers done allows us to get to them sooner.”
All GCSD staff members are eligible for the vaccine and divided into tiers based on their risk of exposure to the virus, Saul said.
Tier 1a consists of classroom teachers, first and foremost those who are in close and regular contact with students who cannot wear masks due to medical reasons. Tier 1b includes building administrators, bus drivers, clerks, custodians and food service employees. Tier 1c is central office staff and athletic coaches not employed in another position within the district.
GCSD Superintendent Ryan Kramer said at a Feb. 9 school board meeting that 42% of district staff is willing to be vaccinated. Because the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is known to provoke a more intense immune response and side effects, they plan to administer these on a Friday to avoid interrupting instruction.
“We appreciate public health and Banner Health getting us set up to have those,” Kramer said at the meeting.
Residents will still sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations through GCPH or the WDH website.
At this time, Banner Health and GCPH are the only COVID-19 vaccine administrators in Goshen County, Saul said. Other Wyoming counties have similar partnerships with pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart.
Torrington Community Hospital CEO Zach Miller said the partnership will benefit the community.
“We will be able to vaccinate more individuals quicker,” Miller wrote in a text message. “Thereby getting more people protected and hopefully moving one step closer to immunity in this community.”
The WDH is asking Wyomingites to get vaccinated in their own counties to avoid further complicating the distribution process.
“Vaccine is being distributed largely based on population estimates. Going across county lines to receive vaccines can harm the other county’s ability to meet the needs of their own residents,” said Angie Van Houten, Community Health Section chief with WDH in a Jan. 29 press release. “There are a few situations such as for certain workers employed in a different county than where they live that are understandable, but most people really should look to their own county’s resources.”
As of Feb. 7, 1,445 Goshen County residents have received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and 199 have received their second dose, according to WDH vaccine distribution data.
Residents who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine can pre register using a form on the WDH website under Goshen County on the “County COVID-19 vaccine information” page, or by calling 800-438-5795. GCPH holds drive-through clinics at the armory each Tuesday and Thursday by appointment.