TORRINGTON – Goshen County Public Health (GCPH) distributed the county’s first COVID-19 vaccinations to local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel on Dec. 23.
Darin Yates, Torrington EMS executive director and Goshen County Coroner, was the first recipient of the Moderna vaccine at the GCPH office on Wednesday afternoon. Afterward, he exchanged a high five with GCPH Registered Nurse Melissa Johnson, who administered the first vaccine, and likened the feeling to a flu shot. Yates told The Telegram he and seven other members of the Torrington ambulance service were inoculated.
“So many of us were waiting for it because of the large number of COVID-19 patients we transport,” Yates said. “It’s another way to protect us.”
Goshen County received 400 doses of the Moderna vaccine last week and 100 more on Dec. 28, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
GCPH Nursing Manager Kelly Beard said vaccinations were scheduled to begin Dec. 28 at the Senior Friendship Center, but the shipment came early and they decided to vaccinate EMS personnel.
Goshen County is in Phase 1a of COVID-19 vaccinations, which includes health care personnel in hospitals and clinics, law enforcement, school nurses, EMS personnel and more. The full list of Phase 1a recipients is available at https://health.wyo.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Phase-1a-COVID-19-Vaccination-Priorities-121120.pdf.
GCPH Emergency Response Coordinator Heather Saul said she notified individuals within these categories and sent them a calendar so they could schedule an appointment.
“(The vaccine) is something we’ve been long waiting for, and it’s finally here,” Saul said. “We have gone through so much with all these state health orders, and now that we have the vaccine, we can move forward and eventually, take away the masks, take away the social distancing.”
GCPH started vaccination clinics on Monday at the Senior Friendship Center, where nurses Johnson and Sid Posten administered vaccines starting at 9 a.m. As of press time, nurses were scheduled to administer 17 vaccines throughout the day.
Johnson said scheduling appointments is strategic, as one vile of the vaccine contains 10 doses, which have to be administered six hours after the container is punctured.
Cindy Breedlove of GCPH gives recipients a card indicating which brand of vaccine they received, the date they received it and the day they are scheduled to receive their second dose, 28 days later. Anyone who has received a flu shot must wait 14 days after that vaccination to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Recipients also receive a flyer with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who are checking in with vaccine recipients to monitor side effects via an app called V-safe. After receiving the vaccination, recipients roll down their sleeves and sit in a waiting area for 15 minutes.
Saul said GCPH plans to continue administering vaccines at the Senior Friendship Center and eventually the armory as more become available.
Statewide, Wyoming has received 16,725 vaccine doses as of Dec. 28, according to the WDH.