GILLETTE — Months into Wyoming’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Campbell County lags behind all other counties in the state with its percentage of population fully vaccinated, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.
But despite the lower numbers, Campbell County Public Health Executive Director Jane Glaser said the county’s rollout has improved since its low uptake rates in the early days of vaccination.
As of April 5, the Wyoming Department of Health reported that 9.67 percent of Campbell County’s population has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
The county with the next lowest percentage of fully vaccinated people is Crook County, where 11.81 percent of its population has had two shots or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Teton County leads the way with 30.21 percent of its population fully vaccinated, with Albany, Fremont, Hot Springs, Park and Sheridan counties all with more than 20-percent fully vaccinated, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.
Besides lagging in the overall percentage vaccinated, Campbell County has received less vaccine than other comparable counties.
Despite having Wyoming’s third-highest population, Campbell County has received the ninth-most vaccines in the state.
“I honestly am not sure,” Glaser said about why Campbell County is getting less vaccine than others. “We actually were rolling ours out faster than other counties. We went through the tiers faster than other places. It also could be that we have a larger population than some of the other ones and other counties had a better uptake in the beginning than we did.”
There are an estimated 46,341 people in Campbell County, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 population estimates. Of those, 33,783, or 72.9 percent, are older than 18.
On March 31, Gov. Mark Gordon announced the COVID-19 vaccine is available to anyone in the state age 16 and older.
It is unclear how many of the remaining 12,558 people in Campbell County under 18 are 16 and older, making them vaccine eligible.
The 9,490 first doses and single-dose vaccines received as of April 5 is enough to inoculate about 28 percent of Campbell County’s adult population. The 7,051 shots given cover about 21 percent of that eligible population.
Not included in the state Department of Health’s county-specific vaccine counts is the number of doses sent to pharmacies through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
In Gillette, the Walgreens, Walmart and Smith’s pharmacies offer appointments for the vaccine.
Through its weekly vaccine clinics, Campbell County Public Health is able to give 250 to 300 shots a day three days a week.
With the clinics running smoothly and multiple locations for people to schedule appointments, Glaser said she is not concerned about the relatively low vaccine supply in Campbell County.
“I think for right now, because there’s a number of entities giving it, I don’t think it’s an issue of not having enough supply,” she said. “I think that we have plenty of supply. It’s more that we need to make sure that the people still are going to come and get it.”
When Public Health switched to in-house clinics a couple of months ago, the organization had appointments booked two to three weeks in advance. Now, appointment slots are still filling up, but the waiting list is closer to a week out, Glaser said, signaling a slight decrease in demand.
There is no fixed percentage goal that the county is striving to have vaccinated. Glaser said that developing herd immunity is not so straightforward. That said, the county, like the rest of the country, still has a long way to go.
“I think we always have room for improvement,” Glaser said. “We still have a lot of community left that it would be good to get vaccinated. But I do think we are making progress.”
As variants of COVID-19 have become more prevalent in parts of the country, Wyoming and Campbell County have seen an increase as well.
This past week, the Wyoming Department of Health said that multiple COVID-19 “variants of concern” have been identified in Wyoming since November.
The 40 or more cases of B.1.1.7., better known as the U.K. variant, found in the state make it the most common variant, followed by more than 40 combined cases of two variants believed to have originated in California, B.1.427 and B.1.429.
There has been one case of the South African variant, B.1.351., found in Wyoming so far.
The Wyoming Public Health Laboratory identified the variants through genetic sequencing of a large number of positive COVID-19 samples taken in the state since November.
Public Health announced finding the first case of the U.K. variant in Campbell County in February.
Since then, three instances of the California variants have been identified in the county, all in March, Glaser said, adding that the three cases do not appear to be connected.
“The problem is that it takes a while to get the variant results back,” she said. “In all of these situations, the positive person was already out of quarantine and done everything they were supposed to have done.”
Going forward, Glaser expects Public Health to continue its vaccine rollout. But how far into the future COVID-19 shots will continue being administered isn’t likely to be known soon.
“I think we’ll probably always have the need to vaccinate against COVID-19 the way we have the need to vaccinate against any communicable disease,” she said. “It will depend on how prevalent it is in the community.”