When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
That depends on how rapidly supplies are available, on your age, health status, and employment. Distribution of the vaccine will be phased, with “critical populations” (critical infrastructural workforce, people at risk for severe COVID-19, people most likely to acquire and transmit COVID-19, and people who have limited access to routine vaccinations) coming first.
The following phases will roll out as supplies of the vaccine increase:
Phase 1a: Healthcare employees and other kinds of workers likely to be exposed to COVID-19 or to treat people who are already exposed, such as people who work in law enforcement or pharmacies.
Phase 1b: People with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, people over the age of 65, essential workers, and people with limited access to vaccinations.
Phase 2: Additional people with underlying medical conditions or limited access to vaccines, additional critical workers and people who live in group settings (such as prisons or dormitories).
Phase 3: Everyone else who is recommended to have the vaccine.
Where will I be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
In some counties with larger populations, from the County Health Department. In other places, from public health nurses. Pharmacies will provide some vaccinations.
Who is in charge of supplying the vaccine?
The Federal government distributes the vaccine. The Immunization Unit in the Public Health Department of the Wyoming Health Department is the state entity responsible for distributing vaccines.
How will the vaccines be distributed around the state?
Vaccines requiring ultra-cold storage (at -70 C) will be distributed initially to the Health Departments in Campbell, Laramie, Natrona, Park and Teton counties, and distributed in smaller quantities to other locations. If both vaccines that require ultra-cold storage and those that don’t are available, the former will be sent to the aforementioned five counties, and the latter will be distributed to other locations.
Who can give me a vaccine?
Only healthcare workers or organizations registered with the Wyoming Immunization Registry may give the vaccine. (For further information or to register, contact the WDH.)
Summary of Plan
On October 16, 2020, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) submitted to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) its draft plan for distribution of vaccines against COVID-19. The document has been updated since then and WDH will continue to update it.
The Immunization Unit within the Public Health Division of WHD is responsible for routine distribution of all COVID-19 vaccines that the Federal government will provide to the state of Wyoming. Many of the processes described in this plan are already in use for distribution of other (non-COVID-19) vaccines.
At the local level, coordination of vaccinations for most populations has been planned and conducted by Public Health Nursing Organizations (PHNOs) and County Health Departments (CHDs). The Northern Arapaho Tribal Health Department and the Fort Washakie Health Center will receive vaccines directly through the Indian Health Service. The Eastern Shoshone Tribal Health Department plans to become a COVID-19 vaccination provider through the WDH. Preparing for delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, some health departments across Wyoming (Tribal Health Departments, CHDs and PHNOs) have already been conducting clinics about routine seasonal flu, to exercise their vaccine plans.
This plan was developed in collaboration with and will involve a large variety of healthcare organizations in Wyoming as well as the CDC. Although WDH will carry out most top-level activities (coordination, distribution, data management, and communications), several roles will be carried out at the local level: surveillance (as required), vaccine and antiviral medication storage, local distribution and dispensing, and local emergency response.
The COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign will be rolled out in a phased approach, with allocations of priority groups based on advice from the CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in consultation with the Wyoming Medical Ethics Committee. A minimum of 975 doses of Pfizer vaccine can be shipped to each location (and it may be possible to subdivide and redistribute these in smaller amounts). A minimum of 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine can also be shipped, once it is approved. Early doses available to Wyoming may not allow for vaccines to be distributed to all counties and tribes, and priorities may change locally due to local realities.
Vaccine allocations will be prioritized first for hospitals, PHNOs, CHDs, and Eastern Shoshone Tribal Health. In general, vaccine distribution will be prioritized to members of four categories of critical populations: Critical infrastructural workforce, people at risk for severe COVID-19, people most likely to acquire and transmit COVID-19, and people who have limited access to routine vaccinations.
The phases (which may change as a result of federal guidance and details about specific vaccines) are:
Phase 1a (when COVID-19 vaccine supply is limited): Healthcare staff and other personnel likely to be exposed to or to treat people infected with COVID 19, including law enforcement officers, school nurses, and pharmacy personnel,
Phase 1b (when vaccine supply is limited): People at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including people with underlying medical conditions, those 65 years of age and older, and essential workers. Pharmacies will be important in this phase, and may be used to provide vaccinations for residents of long-term care and assisted living facilities. These facilities may also choose to work with PHNOs and CHDs or to use their own staff as providers (in which case these staff need to be enrolled formally with WHD as vaccine providers).
Phase 2 (when supply of vaccine increases): Additional critical workers, people with underlying conditions, and people who live in congregate (group) settings or have limited access to vaccine services. In this phase, WDH will coordinate with PHNOs and CHDs to approve other health-care providers who may order and administer vaccines. Pharmacies, both chain and independent, will also be important in this phase.
Phase 3 (slowing demand and adequate supply of vaccine): All people who are recommended for vaccination.
Health-care providers and facilities wishing to administer the vaccine are being required to enroll in the program using a printable form (and eventually via online enrollment) compatible with the REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) web-based application. Smaller healthcare facilities, such as those located in remote or rural areas, will be enrolled with restricted ordering permissions, and will receive vaccines from a primary distributing location after submitting a request through WDH’s Wyoming Immunization Registry (WyIR).
Some vaccines will be distributed through chain pharmacies (Walgreens and CVS) as arranged by CDC. Because Wyoming pharmacies have been required to report to the WyIR since 2013, many are already registered. The WDH will work with local public health departments to identify independent pharmacies that are not registered, and encourage them to enroll as vaccine providers.
Each provider must identify two COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinators to be trained online via WyIR in key aspects of vaccine management, storage, handling, and reporting.
Larger orders of the vaccine (at least 975 doses at a time) that need to be stored at -70 C will be sent initially to the Health Departments in Campbell, Laramie, Natrona, Park, and Teton Counties. Depending on the initial doses available, PHNOs and hospitals in smaller counties and the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Health Department may receive smaller orders, in coordination with the larger counties. If both kinds of vaccine (ultra-cold storage and non-cold storage) vaccines are available, the ultra-cold vaccine will be distributed to Campbell, Natrona, Laramie, Park, and Teton Counties and other counties will receive the other vaccine.
The WyIR will be used to collect all information about vaccine administration from health-care providers. Wyoming already requires information about other vaccines to be reported to WyIR, so most providers are already familiar with the system. When new providers enroll in WyIR, they will receive training on documentation, storage, and reporting, including how to report adverse events (side effects of the vaccine) to the CDC. Data about vaccine distribution will be exported to the CDC using VTrckS (the CDC Vaccine Tracking System), information about vaccine administration will be reported to CDC using the IZ gateway, and adverse event reporting will take place via the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting Service (VAERS).
Systems for reminding people to return for a second dose of the vaccine are still in planning. According to current information, vaccine doses will be shipped with cards to be given to the patient that record the brand of vaccine received and when to return for a second dose. If these are provided, the person who administers the vaccine will be required to fill them out and give them to everyone who receives the vaccine. Reminders may also be provided by US mail, phone calls, emails, texts, or “ticklers” in an electronic patient portal.
Communications of information about the vaccine program will be coordinated by the WDH public information officer and delivered using the department’s routine methods, including websites, emails, conference calls, social media, news releases and media briefings.