It might not be until mid to late January before Phase 1b people will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccinations according to Sagan Wheeler, communications and marketing specialist with Ivinson Memorial Hospital.
Another 200 Moderna vaccines were received on Wednesday. Plans to continue vaccinating all individuals in Phase 1a priority subgroups are in place before moving on to next phase.
“Last week [IMH] was able to vaccinate school nurses, so we’re really moving through that 1a category,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler anticipates by the end of the week, all available doses at IMH will be administered and they will progress to Phase 1b by mid to late January.
“We aren’t able to offer [vaccines] to 1b yet because we have to get through 1a. But we can’t get through 1a until we have more vaccines,” she said, adding the 1,200 doses received last month were distributed between the hospital and Albany County Public Health. IMH received 700 of those doses and the remaining 500 were distributed to Public Health.
IMH has approximately 580 staff members in addition to their medical staff who fall under the Phase 1a category.
Wheeler said vaccines are being shipped only to Public Health and the hospital because health care workers are the top priority for immunizations. Until everyone in the first priority groups who wants the vaccine receives immunization, the public will be required to wait.
A majority of the distribution efforts are conducted by Public Health, said Wheeler. IMH partnered with the downtown medical facility and are working together to advance through the Wyoming Department of Health’s list of prioritized populations in synchronization.
IMH is currently working on sub-categories one, two, six, eight, 13, 14 and 16; Public Health is vaccinating three four, seven, nine-12, 15 and 17. Category three (long-term care facilities) were vaccinated in part by Public Health and Walgreens.
Wheeler said the two entities are in regular discussion and keep an inventory of vaccines and their positions on the categorical priority list.
“It is a collaborative effort,” said Wheeler, “at the end of the day, we’re working closely with Public Health so that we can all make sure we’re getting through the subgroups together.”
Wheeler is aware of the community’s growing anxieties and frustrations surrounding the apparent lack of accessible information, and said it’s understandable to want to know which category you fall under, and when and where you can expect to be vaccinated. Instead of urging community members to remain patient, she assured them that IMH’s mission and determination align with the public’s.
“We want to get there, too” she said, and move on from this pandemic.
In response to Wednesday’s front page, Wheeler also emphasized that although the hospital and Public Health are partners IMH can only speak on behalf of itself and cannot necessarily report on the inventory or progression of medical facility.
She also disclosed it isn’t the state’s plan to disperse vaccines to public health care facilities until all preceding categories are completed. Wheeler said local pharmacies do not have vaccines.
“At this point in time, [the state] has not done distribution to various pharmacies or other healthcare facilities.”
Until then, entities like the University of Wyoming are preparing themselves and looking into becoming a distribution site in the future, sources reveal.
As Albany County receives more immunizations in the coming weeks — an expectant 1,000 doses by the end of the month — it is hoped that Laramie will see IMH and Albany County Public Health moving more quickly through vaccinations.