WHEATLAND – The Fire Training Hall on Cole Street was a happening place as residents most as risk from COVID, above 70-years-old, came in droves to receive the free vaccination administered by Platte County Public Health.
The vaccination schedule started at 8:30 a.m., but county employees and volunteers were on location earlier to get everything set up and ready for the first clients.
“We’ve had two or three weeks of planning with meetings to figure out the best way to do things” explained Platte County Emergency Coordinator Terry Stevenson. “After today, we will have another meeting to review what went right and what went wrong before we hold the next clinic.”
The first stop was the check in where masked seniors showed their I.D. Each time slot was for a different age with 78 and over slated for 8:30 a.m. but spouses were allowed to get vaccinated at the same time even if one was younger than the other. The next room was where each person filled out their vaccination card with their name, birth and other identifying information. The card was dated for their first dose and then also had the date and time they needed to return for the second dose within six weeks but not before 28 days. The vaccination is not valid unless both doses are taken. Once the cards were filled out, they stepped into a waiting room with socially distanced chairs to wait until a nurse was ready for them. There were four vaccination stations available. After their shot, they were asked to wait in another, larger room for 15 minutes in case they had an allergic reaction and once their time was up they were free to go out a different door than the one they came in at. A well thought-out plan that kept the flow uninterrupted with lots of space between everyone. Masks were required for everyone on the premises. For those who did not wish to come in the building, or who were not able, they simply told the attendants outside that they wished to be vaccinated in their vehicle. Then they filled out their card in their car and drove around to the south side of the building and a nurse went out to their door and vaccinated them there.
The system worked. They were expecting to be able to vaccinate 40 people an hour, they managed 60. In all, 300 were vaccinated.
“We are using the Moderna Vaccine. Each vial has 10 doses that once punctured has to be used in 6 hours.
You can’t save it,” explained Public Health Nurse Manager Nicole Sticka. “The other vaccines have to be used even quicker and I told them that wouldn’t work for us. I wanted something we could utilize without wasting it.”
The vaccine can be frozen for 6 months, refrigerated for 30 days, and room temp for 12 hours, once thawed it can’t be refrozen or if sitting at room temperature it can’t be put back into the refrigerator. The refrigerated temperature is fiercely regulated through the day, but they need to pay attention when they are getting ready to need another vial because it has to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before it can be injected.
“One of the reasons we are able to do this free of charge is that the state also sends us ancillary supplies along with the vaccine,” Sticka said. “Alcohol wipes, needles, face masks and shields and the vaccination cards. But we don’t always use everything they send us. Sometimes they send us really long or large needles that we don’t want to stick people with. We use our own supplies rather than do that.”
The cards that are filled out are important. It is not only proof that you have received the vaccination, but also has the date of when to come back for the next and final dose. However, the information on each card is also inputted into a state vaccine database called WyIR (Wyoming Immunization Registry). If someone loses their card, Public Health can print out their record from the database and not have to start over the vaccination process. One gentleman came back to do just that because he had lost his card already after just an hour.
The next clinic will be held March 3 at the same place, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for citizens 65-years-old and over but also people who have certain health concerns including: currently undergoing cancer treatment, Kidney disease, COPD, solid organ transplant, Sickle cell disease, Down Syndrome, pregnancy, diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, immunocompromised and severe neurological conditions. As well as People on Wyoming Medicaid Community Choices Waiver, Developmental Disabilities Waiver, and Caregivers who are caring for a person who is at high risk of COVID illness and cannot receive the vaccine.
There can be some mild side effects including fever, weakness or headache. The one side effect that almost everyone gets? A sore arm for about two days.
Willing to risk the sore arm, Tom West and his wife were at the Clinic Wednesday morning and sitting side by side in the recovery room.
“So far so good,” West said. “I think everyone should get it. My younger brother should be in a little later.”
There are some fraudulent activities surrounding the vaccinations. The vaccine is free and doesn’t require any insurance information. Anyone who calls and offers the vaccine but asks for payment or your social security number is not a real representative. No one is legally doing in-home vaccinations. Please be vigilant and don’t be scammed by disreputable callers.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article was headlined "Guernsey hosts vaccination clinic," and the article's dateline indicated the clinic took place in Guernsey. That is incorrect. The clinic took place in Wheatland. We apologize for the mistake and any confusion arising therefrom.