GOSHEN COUNTY – Goshen County is expected to receive 1,000 additional Moderna COVID-19 vaccines throughout February, as Goshen County Public Health works through the waitlist of residents 70 years of age and older.
As of Jan. 31, 1,081 Goshen County residents have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 146 have received their second dose, according to Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) vaccine distribution data. Vials of the Moderna vaccine that arrive can be used for both first or second doses, according to GCPH Emergency Response Coordinator Heather Saul.
Saul said once they work through the waitlist of roughly 200 residents in the 70 years of age and older category, they will begin making appointments for the next priority groups: Goshen County residents who are 65 years old and older, and staff at Saint Joseph’s Children’s Home in Torrington. Staff at K-12 institutions are also within the phase 1b priority group, but it remains uncertain when they will begin the vaccination process.
“We’re being told this is the amount we’re getting, but until it’s in our hands, we don’t know for sure,” Saul said. “It all depends how much we’re allocated, when we get it in our hands and then we go from there.”
Saul said GCPH plans to hold drive-through vaccine clinics every Tuesday and Thursday throughout February at the Wyoming National Guard Armory. In the event of inclement weather, the drive-through will instead be a walk-through indoors at the same location.
As GCPH moves through first doses of phase 1b recipients, the county’s phase 1a recipients – healthcare personnel, law enforcement, first responders – recently received their second doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Darin Yates, Torrington EMS executive director, was the first person to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Goshen County on Dec. 23. He was vaccinated the second time on Jan. 20, with a sore arm and fatigue afterward.
As a first responder who frequently comes in contact with COVID-19 positive patients, Yates is relieved to have an added layer of protection on top of masks, face shields, gloves and frequent cleaning of the ambulances transporting these patients.
“We were looking forward to the vaccines and November for us was our worst month, where about 85% to 90% of our call volume was all COVID patients,” he said. “So we were definitely excited to get the vaccine.”
For Torrington Police Chief Matt Johnson, being vaccinated gives him that same “peace of mind” of added protection as someone whose job is to interact with members of the community.
After his first dose on Dec. 28, the arm he received the vaccine in was sore, a symptom shared by most recipients. Johnson received his second dose on Jan. 25, a Monday afternoon around 3 p.m. Shortly after, he reported muscle aches and joint pains, followed by fatigue and a higher temperature than normal on Tuesday morning.
After a day off from work, Johnson said he was back Wednesday feeling normal.
“It was not my favorite experience but much better than having COVID,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t like I was completely incapacitated, but certainly a little sore and achy and uncomfortable.”
Johnson said three TPD staff members opted to receive the vaccine, as anxiety about side effects, new technologies and speedy manufacturing has made some people eligible to be inoculated hesitant to do so. Some decided against it because they already tested positive for the coronavirus, he said.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends those who already had COVID-19 receive the vaccine, as reinfection is possible and it’s uncertain how long those who tested positive have immunity.
The World Health Organization released guidance regarding groups who should not receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, including individuals with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine, who should not take it or any other mRNA vaccine, and individuals under 18 years of age, pending the results of further studies.
WHO also recommends most pregnant women hold off on being inoculated. With very little data regarding vaccine safety and pregnancy, WHO recommends pregnant women with high risk of exposure to the coronavirus, including health care workers, consult their provider if they wish to be vaccinated.
“Most of the people that are getting the vaccine have already done their research, so they’re excited about getting it,” said Cindy Breedlove, secretary at GCPH. “They’ve done their research, they’ve done their homework, and any questions they have, of course they can ask the nurses.”
Breedlove is the employee tasked with writing up and distributing vaccination cards at GCPH clinics so recipients know when they received their first dose and when they’re expected to receive their second. She herself received the vaccine and had a sore arm after both doses.
“I’m just very relieved because I don’t like getting sick,” Breedlove said.
GCPH Nurse Manon Strong, RN, received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 29, and her second dose on Jan. 28. She said she opted to wait two days after she was supposed to receive that second dose, until after GCPH’s drive-through clinic that same day in case of a reaction.
“We’re not a very big department, we only have five nurses, and it takes all of us on board to do those drive-through clinics,” Strong said. Throughout last week, the five nurses administered 490 vaccines.
A day after her second dose, she felt extreme muscle aches, giving her nothing to do but lay with a heating pad. Strong’s advice: try not to fill your schedule too much a day or two post-injection, just in case.
“The side effects of the second one are usually a little more pronounced than the first one,” she said. “If it does make me sick for a couple of days, it’s worth it, so that I don’t give it to someone else.”
Staci Willey, RN, quality, safety and infection prevention senior manager at Torrington Community Hospital, was one of Banner Medical Clinic’s first 10 employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 23.
Headache and fatigue after her first dose was followed by the same symptoms, plus nausea, after her second dose on Jan. 20, “good signs that my immune system was kicking in,” Willey said.
“For me, this vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel and gives me hope that there can be an end to an extremely difficult year,” Willey wrote in an email to the Telegram. “Not only in healthcare but in our nation.”
To make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, call GCPH at 307-715-0068.