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Published March 12, 2021
Close to 1,700 Albany County residents, including many University of Wyoming employees and students, are being vaccinated for COVID-19 this week, helping set the stage for the return to a more traditional semester this fall.
The vaccination program, a collaborative effort of Albany County Public Health, Ivinson Memorial Hospital and UW, is vaccinating people in Phase 1c, priority groups 1-3, of the Wyoming Department of Health priority tiers. The list of those who qualify includes people between the ages of 50 and 64; individuals with moderate to severe asthma, hypertension, high blood pressure, liver disease and those who are overweight; and essential critical infrastructure workers. UW faculty and staff members qualify under the “essential critical infrastructure workers” category.
President Ed Seidel has granted an hour of release time for each dose of the vaccine for UW employees. The scheduling of release time should be a collaborative discussion between employee and supervisor to ensure the effective and efficient operation of the unit. Those who have used personal leave time already to be vaccinated can work with their departments to change the designation to release time.
“To be able to administer as many vaccines to as many as we can right now is really of the utmost importance,” says Matt McDermit, UW’s manager of strategic enrollment operations, one of many UW volunteers helping with the clinics. “I like to see not only everyone come out to get their vaccine, but I also like seeing other people with the same idea and sentiment that they want to help out and see people get the vaccine. It does kind of feel like a movement, in a way.”
As of the end of today (Friday), the collaborative vaccination program will have administered close to 7,000 first doses. Another 800 doses are anticipated next week.
Reed Scull, an associate professor in UW’s College of Education, is among those receiving the first dose of the vaccine this week. He says it’s important for all members of the UW community to be vaccinated when it’s their turn.
“To my students, I would say: Do this for yourself, but also for others. There are things that are larger than ourselves and, as professionals, we need to think about those larger issues like the community health as well as your individual health,” Scull says. “I think it’s going to make people feel confident, long term, to get out and about. And I think it will help our campus environment considerably. I most look forward to seeing my friends and colleagues in person and having nice, long conversations with my students.”
There are several options individuals who are eligible to receive their vaccine can choose to schedule appointments:
-- Albany County Vaccine Call Center -- Individuals who are eligible in Phase 1a, 1b or 1c can call (307) 766-8222 to schedule their vaccination appointments. Due to high call volumes, individuals should remain patient and try again later if their calls do not go through initially.
-- Ivinson Memorial Hospital My Health Connection -- Individuals who qualify based on age and are currently signed up for My Health Connection may receive a self-scheduling link via email to book appointments. If you’ve already signed up on My Health Connection, you are on Albany County’s vaccination list, even though the language on the site references Colorado and UC Health.
-- Walmart Pharmacy -- Walmart has received a federal allotment of the COVID-19 vaccine. Eligible individuals can visit the Walmart website to schedule appointments.
-- Walgreens Pharmacy -- Walgreens has received a federal allotment of the COVID-19 vaccine. Eligible individuals can visit the Walgreens website to schedule appointments.
-- Pole Mountain Pharmacy -- Pole Mountain has received a county allotment for the COVID-19 vaccine. Eligible individuals can visit the Pole Mountain website to schedule appointments.
Those who need assistance to travel for their vaccinations may request rides by calling UW Transit and Parking Services at (307) 766-7433. Requests should be scheduled in advance, if possible. Callers should indicate if the transportation is vaccination-related and if any special accommodations are needed.
While vaccinations are not required for UW employees, they’re strongly encouraged. And, to allow the university to track overall vaccination numbers to inform plans for the fall semester, employees must report their vaccinations once they’ve received them. To report receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, employees should click on Career and Performance under My Profile in HCM. From the Career and Performance page, click Skills and Qualifications. The section of this page containing the opt-in to COVID-19 testing has been updated to include the ability to report receiving the vaccine. Under COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Status, click Add, then select the vaccine provider received as well as date(s) received. Employees can edit this section multiple times, allowing for entering of an initial dose, then returning to enter the date of the second dose. Completing the opt-in to COVID-19 testing contained in the same block is not required.
As Albany County continues to receive increased vaccine supply, rapid vaccine events will be scheduled. Eligible individuals will be able to schedule appointments at the rapid events through the Vaccine Call Center or My Health Connection.
“After quite a challenging and difficult period, we all kind of feel like we’re looking at the light at the end of the tunnel, finally,” says College of Health Sciences Dean David Jones, who is helping lead the vaccination clinics. “We’re hoping that as many people as are able to get vaccinated will get vaccinated. The more people who get vaccinated, the closer we get to having normalcy again.”