MARBLETON – One by one, providers at the Marbleton Clinic entered the break room. Brand new syringes rested on the table along with bottles containing doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Public Health Nurse Manager Janna Lee and public health nurse Robin Carnes prepared the first vaccines to be delivered in Sublette County.
Dr. Brendan Fitzsimmons, Sublette County public health officer, filled out a form similar to the paperwork required for a seasonal flu shot. Angie Kolis with Public Health entered his information into a database.
Fitzsimmons took a seat, rolled up his shirtsleeve, and did not flinch as Carnes carefully extended the syringe into his shoulder.
Fitzsimmons was the first individual in the county to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Other providers at the clinic and first responders in the county followed suit, receiving their shots minutes later.
Happiness filled the break room as each recipient waited the required 15 minutes to make sure no one experienced emergency side effects. Many of the providers downloaded an app from the CDC allowing the agency to digitally monitor side effects and further study on the vaccine.
“We’re extremely excited about this day,” Fitzsimmons said. “We’re looking forward to getting more and more people vaccinated. We see this as the light at the end of the tunnel and ultimately the answer to the problems COVID has given us – people getting sick, people dying, all the lockdowns, keeping schools going – all of that leads to this vaccination.”
The Food and Drug Administration gave Moderna the green light to deliver its vaccine on Dec. 18. Sublette County Public Health received 200 shots in the first batch and planned to deliver 50 shots this week, followed by another 100 the following week.
Medical providers, first responders and staff at assisted-living facilities will receive the first batch, Lee said. The vaccines are under production, and there are not enough shots to cover the entire population at this time.
The Wyoming Department of Health’s Medical Ethics Committee established several phases to prioritize who receives the first shots based on CDC guidelines, Lee said.
The vaccine is given in two separate doses spaced 28 days apart. The first shot provides up to 60 percent protection against COVID-19, Fitzsimmons said. The second dose increases the body’s ability to fight the disease to 94.5 percent, he added.
Moderna’s vaccine went through the same “rigorous trails” and three phases that other vaccines must go through to get federal approval, Lee explained.
Twenty-four hours after receiving the vaccine, Fitzsimmons said he “felt great.”
“Other than a small area of tenderness at the injection site, I haven’t noticed anything,”he added.