COVID-19 vaccine availability set to expand

CASPER —The Casper-Natrona County Health Department plans to offer COVID-19 vaccines for kids as young as 6 months old starting next week, pending final approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the department’s spokesperson said. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines on Friday for kids as young as 6 months old. Prior to the new approval, only people 18 years and older could get the Moderna vaccine, while only people 5 years and older could get the Pfizer vaccine. 

The new approval comes amid another uptick in COVID cases across the country, driven primarily by the omicron sub-variant BA.2.12.1. The sub-variant makes up about 68 percent of cases in the region that includes Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota and Utah, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The Wyoming Department of Health reported 405 new confirmed active COVID cases on Tuesday. That’s 274 more cases than the department reported a month ago. 

COVID hospitalizations also seem to be going up, but not at the same pace as cases. The state health department reported 27 COVID hospitalizations on Tuesday. That’s the greatest number of reported hospitalizations since mid-March.

On top of that, hospitalizations among young kids during the omicron wave have been greater than they were during the delta wave; the CDC reported in March that peak hospitalizations during omicron of U.S. kids under 5 years of age were about five times the rate of peak hospitalizations during the delta wave. 

If the CDC makes a final recommendation for the emergency use of these vaccines, about 35,000 kids in Wyoming would become eligible, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Wyoming Health Department Spokesperson Kim Deti said over text that there should be an update from the department about the vaccines early next week.