LUSK – The first round of Niobrara County vaccinations have occurred, and based on the turnout, residents are eager for the opportunity to get the immunization. On Tuesday, Jan. 12, cars lined up through the fairgrounds parking lot waiting to drive through and receive their COVID-19 vaccination from Wyoming Public Health.
The clinic opened at noon, and by 2:30 p.m., they were out of the allotted doses for this clinic and had to turn people away. Public health nurses were set up in the beef barn to allow those receiving the shot to remain in their vehicle.
As with the rest of the country, the first round of immunizations was for the group designated phase 1a: first responders, people over 70 years of age, healthcare providers, social workers, K-12 and early childhood teachers, funeral service practitioners, grocery store employees and postal service employees.
The smell of exhaust combined with the puffs of breath from public health employees as cars began lining up and pulling through the beef barn. It was colder in the barn than outside since the sunshine didn’t reach inside the barn and both sets of doors were open to allow vehicles to pull through. Even with an extra set of heaters, nurses’ fingers were so cold they were beginning to have problems administering the vaccine, but they persevered. For once, the mandatory masks weren’t so bad since they also kept their faces warm.
Administering 140 doses in around two hours means between the three nurses, they were administering 70 doses an hour, more than one a minute. According to Niobrara County Public Health Nurse Melanie Pearce, the majority of those who were able to obtain a vaccine during this round were in the over 70 years of age category. However, several educators and first responders were also able to obtain a shot.
The down side to the timing of this clinic was that many of those on the front lines of the community were unable to make it right at noon. This meant that those in the community most at risk of exposure because they simply can’t stay home were also unable to obtain vaccines because the doses were gone before they could get off work.
Anna Foreman, the regular Niobrara County Public Health nurse stated, hopefully, in another 30 days, another vaccine clinic would be held, and Pearce stated she was working on obtaining at least another 100 doses.
Public Health employees also emphasized they still have plenty of influenza vaccines, and people are encouraged to get their flu shot whether or not they will be getting a COVD-19 immunization. Vaccines for those over 19 is kept in stock and is $15. For those under 19, call ahead to allow the staff to obtain the vaccine, but they are happy to bring it from Douglas.
Public health regularly posts updates and info on both their website and Facebook pages. They can also be reached for any questions or concerns at (307) 334-4032. They are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.