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Certain Medical Conditions Make COVID-19 Vaccines Vital

A nurse draws a dose of COVID-19 vaccine
A nurse draws a dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 11:50 PM CST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Release) - The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) says adults with high-risk medical conditions should get free, safe and effective vaccines meant to help prevent COVID-19 as soon as they are available to them, which in many Wyoming counties may be right now.

Adults of any age with certain medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness means a person may need hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe or they may die.

Roughly 70 percent of Wyoming’s COVID-19 related deaths were among people who had known medical conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve talked about protecting those at risk of more severe illness related to COVID-19,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH. “The vaccines we now have available each offer excellent protection.”

“Anyone can get sick due to COVID-19 and it’s hard to know how each one of us will be affected. But we do know anyone can get the virus and pass it on to someone who could struggle and we know some people have a much higher chance of serious trouble,” Harrist said

“If your immune system or your heart, lungs or other organs are challenged in normal times because of a medical condition, your body is more likely to have trouble responding to the physical stress caused by a COVID-19 illness,” Harrist said. “That’s why it’s especially important for people at higher risk to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Conditions known to increase risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 with the highest priority in Wyoming include: current diagnosis of cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, solid organ transplant, sickle cell disease, Down syndrome and pregnancy.

Harrist noted pregnant women or other people with underlying medical conditions may find it helpful to speak with their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated, but said it isn’t required to get the vaccine.

Other high-risk conditions include: diabetes, heart conditions, obesity (BMI over 30), immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant, blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, taking long-term high dose corticosteroids or other immune weakening medicines, cerebrovascular disease (including stroke) and severe neurologic conditions.

Wyoming residents with any of the listed high-risk conditions are eligible to pre-register to get a COVID-19 vaccine and can currently get the vaccine quickly in many counties.

Harrist said risk for severe illness with COVID-19 also increases with age. “It’s simple: people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. People in their 60s or 70s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s and so on.”

Specific registration processes vary from county to county within Wyoming. Details and the right online pre-registration option for each county can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/immunization/wyoming-covid-19-vaccine-information/county-covid-19-vaccine-information/. Those unable to visit the website may call the WDH toll-free vaccine phone line at 800-438-5795.

The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program continues to expand in Wyoming with several Walmart, Walgreens and independent pharmacy locations. Information should be available locally or on the companies’ websites about which stores are participating and how to register for appointments.

More than 104,000 Wyoming residents have received at least their first doses so far when state and special federal counts are combined.

Important reminders about COVID-19 vaccines in Wyoming include:

  • The vaccines are free.
  • If the vaccine received requires two doses for maximum protection, it’s important to get both.
  • Insurance is not required to receive a vaccine. Some people may be asked to show Medicare or insurance cards so professionals giving shots can get reimbursed.
  • For most people it is best to receive vaccines in the county where they live.

More information about vaccination efforts, including detailed priority group descriptions, in Wyoming can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/immunization/wyoming-covid-19-vaccine-information/.

More details about COVID-19 vaccines, including safety information, from the CDC can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html.

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