By Morgan Hughes
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
CASPER – More Wyomingites received a first COVID-19 vaccine dose in the last two weeks than in any two-week period since mid-May, state figures show.
More than 7,400 people received a first shot between Aug. 6 and Friday, according to a count of Wyoming Department of Health numbers performed by the Star-Tribune.
In the two weeks prior to that, roughly 5,700 people sought a first dose, and in the two weeks prior to that, just over 3,400 did.
That translates to a nearly 20% increase over the last month.
The sudden shift comes as the more contagious delta strain of the virus is driving new and often more severe infections and hospitalizations, largely among the unvaccinated.
Friday, 140 people were hospitalized with the virus statewide — a figure not seen in Wyoming since before Christmas.
Anna Kinder, director of the Casper-Natrona County Health Department, said her office has seen the vaccination increase firsthand.
The department is administering “well over” 100 virus tests a day, and the line for vaccines has consistently been out the door as well, she explained.
“It is very, very busy in all places,” she said.
Dr. Andy Dunn, chief of primary care at Wyoming Medical Center (which includes Mesa and Sage Primary Care clinics) said similar patterns are emerging at those locations, with vaccination and testing both on the rise. Local businesses are also asking for educational seminars and private vaccination clinics for their employees more often than before, Kinder said.
But while the uptick in people getting their shots is an improvement, County Health Officer Dr. Mark Dowell still had a grim update for the board.
He shared that four people were in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit on Thursday with COVID-19.
“I believe all four will die from COVID,” he said.
He was only aware of one person hospitalized in Casper who had been fully vaccinated, but that person was also taking medications that suppress the immune system, meaning the vaccine likely did not evoke a strong immune response from the individual, Dowel explained.
“It’s tough taking care of people that are this sick in the hospital. You know, it could have been prevented,” Dowel said. “It’s really tough emotionally to be honest with you.”
Of those hospitalized with the virus in Wyoming between May 1 and Aug. 10, roughly 95% were not fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.
Roughly 40% of Wyomingites have received at least one vaccine dose. More than 210,000 residents were fully inoculated as of Friday.