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Published January 22, 2021
Initial administration of COVID-19 vaccine to individuals in high-risk job categories in Albany County and at the University of Wyoming is nearing completion, and the next stage is scheduled to begin next week.
Starting Monday, Jan. 25, Albany County Public Health, UW and Ivinson Memorial Hospital (IMH) are scheduled to begin administering vaccines to county residents who are in categories 1-3 of the Phase 1b priority schedule in the Wyoming Department of Health’s distribution guidelines. This includes people who are 70 years of age or older; however, due to limited vaccine availability, distribution efforts will focus first on individuals who are 80 or older.
UW employees who are in these subgroups -- about 75 people -- will be notified of their eligibility via email by the university. They and other county residents in those categories should sign up for My Health Connection, IMH’s patient portal, to be placed on the vaccination list. Individuals will be notified when it is time to schedule their vaccination appointments. Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 26, people in subgroups 1-3 can call (307) 766-8222 if they need assistance.
“Ivinson is excited to be partnering with public health and the university to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to our community,” IMH CEO Doug Faus says. “With My Health Connection, we will be able to streamline the sign-up, scheduling and check-in process for all those who wish to be vaccinated.”
Administration of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for people in Phase 1a of the state’s guidelines has been occurring over the past four weeks, with more than 180 UW employees and student workers receiving their first doses. This includes Student Health Service employees; those involved in UW’s COVID-19 testing program; clinical providers in the College of Health Sciences; UW Police Department employees; Student Affairs and UW Operations employees who work with students in quarantine and isolation; College of Health Sciences students starting clinical rotations; and athletics trainers.
Eventually, COVID-19 vaccinations are expected to be available to all employees and students, in accordance with the priorities established by the state Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). First, however, the vaccine will be made available to people in Phase 1b and other priority categories.
An estimated 3,000 people are age 70 and older in Albany County, so it’s expected to take several weeks to deliver those vaccinations. Phase 1b also includes K-12 educators; the university continues to advocate for UW educators teaching face to face to be included in Phase 1b, which has yet to be finalized. All individuals in Phase 1b, regardless of subgroup classification, are encouraged to sign up for My Health Connection to be notified when the vaccine is more readily available to them.
Additionally, all UW employees and students spending time on campus who receive the vaccine are still required to participate in the university’s surveillance testing program. That’s because, while the COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be highly effective in preventing illness in recipients, it’s not known if those who receive the vaccine can still transmit the virus to others. And the vaccine will not cause recipients to test positive in UW’s testing program.
While the state has not yet released specifics on who may qualify during Phase 1c -- such as certain high-risk individuals and people age 65 and older -- UW’s Department of Human Resources has established an online platform for employees to notify the university that they are at high risk and desire to receive the vaccine when it becomes available.
All employees who are high risk for COVID-19, as defined by the CDC, are encouraged to self-identify in the university’s HCM system. Every active employee has been assigned a “Checklist Task” that steps them through the process of self-identifying. To find this task, employees should click on “Checklist Tasks” under “My Profile” in HCM, then “Current Tasks.” The system will then step employees through a few simple questions to identify how they fit the CDC’s high-risk definitions. Full instructions can be found in the “Self-Identify High Risk for COVID-19” Quick Reference Guide. If an employee is not high risk, no action is required with the assigned task.
All Albany County residents using My Health Connection can sign up to be notified when a vaccine is available. If residents currently have My Health Connection accounts, they will automatically receive updates regarding the vaccine. Those who don’t have My Health Connection accounts can create them by visiting IMH’s website.
For more information about Albany County’s vaccine distribution plan, visit www.ivinsonhospital.org/vaccine.
Questions about UW’s COVID-19 vaccination plans should be emailed to COVIDVX@uwyo.edu. A UW vaccine webpage has been established at www.uwyo.edu/campus-return/vaccination, and it will be updated as information becomes available.