Vaccines working, Delta variant still a concern, WDH say

JACKSON, Wyo. — Data gathered from Wyoming residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent months illustrate that vaccines are working and protecting people from COVID-19, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).

A WDH review of more than 2,400 lab-confirmed and probable cases identified among Wyoming residents age 16 and older between May 1 and June 15 shows just under 95% of the infected individuals do not report being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. During the same period, of the nearly 150 persons infected by COVID-19 who were hospitalized at the time they were interviewed by public health representatives, more than 93 percent did not report being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. To date, there has been one COVID-19 related death of a fully vaccinated Wyoming resident.

Vaccines have been widely available for adults across the state since late March. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after one dose of the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccine.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said the current data for Wyoming appears to be consistent with results across the country. “We are seeing excellent results among those who have been vaccinated. The vast majority of recent, new cases have involved people who were not yet fully vaccinated,” she said.

“It’s clear vaccines are the key to seeing fewer COVID-19 illnesses and there is no question we’d like to see higher vaccine coverage rates in our state,” Harrist said.

Harrist noted Wyoming’s average statewide daily case numbers have remained stable in recent months, but Wyoming’s numbers are still not dropping as quickly as in states with more complete vaccination coverage. “In fact, our rate of new cases adjusted for our population is among the highest in the nation. Hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks and this is something we hate to see happen when we know it could largely be avoided through vaccination,” she said.

The growing presence of the Delta variant among Wyoming COVID-19 cases, particularly in southeastern Wyoming, is a cause for concern. Data suggest the Delta variant spreads more easily between people and may also be associated with higher likelihood of severe illness.

“Our experience demonstrates what we expected to be true: these vaccines can do their job very well including against the Delta variant,” Harrist said. “We remain confident in recommending that everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated should do so as soon as possible.”

“We know COVID-19 infections are not limited to those who have the highest risk of severe illness. Anyone can get the virus and have a harder time than they might expect and anyone could potentially pass it on to someone who could really struggle,” Harrist said

“By getting a COVID-19 vaccine, you help protect your health and the health of your loved ones,” Harrist said.

More information from WDH about vaccination in Wyoming can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/immunization/wyoming-covid-19-vaccine-information/.

About The Author

Buckrail @ Shannon

Shannon is a Wyoming-raised writer and reporter pursuing a master's in journalism at Boston University. Jackson shaped her into an outdoorswoman, but a love for language and the human condition compels her to write. She believes there's no story too small to tell nor adventure too small to take.

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