Flu activity still minimal in Wyoming and lower than usual across U.S. - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Flu activity still minimal in Wyoming and lower than usual across U.S.

“I took a few minutes to get my flu shot this morning,” Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said on Oct. 8. (Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, Facebook)

CASPER, Wyo. — While the country deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States is seeing lower than usual influenza activity for this time of year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flu activity was still minimal in Wyoming as 2021 got underway. The CDC’s latest data is for Jan. 2 and shows that flu activity is minimal in 48 jurisdictions:

Natrona County Health Officer Dr. Mark Dowell said in the fall that influenza season typically starts to impact Wyoming “anywhere from late December to April.”

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Those comments came during a Sept. 24, 2020 press conference when COVID-19 related hospitalizations were beginning to spike at the Wyoming Medical Center, putting a strain on hospital resources.

Dowell urged people to get a flu vaccine to protect themselves and the community and to help avoid a situation in which medical resources would be stretched thin by both influenza and COVID.

At the time, the WMC had 21 COVID-19 patients, which was a record. WMC COVID hospitalizations would proceed to climb as high as 75 on Nov. 25 before the trend started to reverse.

The WMC had 15 COVID hospital patients on Wednesday, Jan. 13. Wyoming overall dropped to 82 COVID hospitalizations on Wednesday, the first time the state has seen less than 90 COVID patients hospitalized since October.

While health officials in Natrona County consider October influenza immunization month, flu vaccines are still available in the area. People can search for vaccine availability near them using this online vaccine finder.

The vaccine finder is available through a partnership between the CDC, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Health Map.

There are also COVID-19 vaccines being administered in Natrona County. People 70 years of age and up became eligible to set up appointments to receive a COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

Vaccines are available by appointment on a first-come, first-served basis among those eligible to receive the vaccine. The following locations will be issuing COVID-19 vaccinations:

  • Casper-Natrona County Health Department
    • 475 S. Spruce
    • Vaccinations are open to anyone with any provider
    • Appointments available 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. beginning Jan. 13
    • Schedule your appointment by calling 307.577.9892
    • No walk-ins
  • Mesa Primary Care Clinic
    • 3632 American Way
    • Vaccinations are open to anyone with any provider
    • Appointments available Jan. 13-16 from 8:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
    • Schedule your appointment by calling 307.233.7280
    • No walk-ins
  • University of Wyoming Family Practice
    • 1522 E. A St.
    • Vaccinations are open to current patients but currently welcoming new patients
    • Appointments available Jan. 14 – 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.; Jan. 15 – 9:00 a.m-12:00 p.m.; Jan. 19 – 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
    • Schedule your appointment by calling 307.234.6161
    • No walk-ins
  • Community Health Centers of Central Wyoming
    • 5000 Blackmore Rd.
    • Vaccinations are open to current CHCCW patients and the public
    • Appointments available Jan. 18 – 1:30-5:30; Jan. 19 – 1:30-5:30; Jan. 20 – 8:30-12:30
    • Schedule your appointment by calling 307.233.6085
    • No walk-ins
  • Platte River Family Practice
    • 1900 East 1st Street
    • Vaccinations are open to current Platte River Family Patients and the public
    • Appointments available Jan. 16 from 9-12 and Jan. 19 from 2-7
    • Schedule your appointment by calling 307-577-7737
    • No walk-ins

Due to limited vaccine doses available, Casper-Natrona County Health Department Public Information Officer Hailey Bloom says the county is expecting doses to run out at each location. However, clinics partnering with the health department will receive additional shipments as those become available.

Before setting an appointment, the CNCHD asks people to note the following:

  1. You must be 70 years or older as of January, 2021.
  2. Walk-ins are not accepted at any location. Call ahead to schedule your appointment.
  3. Bring your government-issued ID to verify age and your insurance card to your appointment.
  4. Vaccines are free to all patients.
  5. Please observe all masking and social distances guidelines during your appointment. Ask your provider about scheduling your second dose at your appointment.

The CNCHD are making vaccines available to those 70 and older as they move into Phase 1B of their COVID vaccine distribution plan. People in sub-groups 1-3 of Phase 1B are able to set up appointments to receive a vaccine in addition to anyone in Phase 1A.

“With the beginning of this new phase, we’re able to start protecting our most vulnerable populations,” Bloom said. “Phase 1A went well, and we’re now working with more community partners to distribute vaccines to people outside of healthcare workers and emergency responders.”

“Casper is on its way back to normal. The more people we’re able to vaccinate, the sooner we’ll get there.”

Further information is available from the CNCHD online.

“If you are experiencing flu like symptoms or have had direct contact with a known positive case, please seek testing through the Casper-Natrona County Health Department by visiting caspervcovid.com or by calling 307-577- 9892,” the CNCHD adds.

The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:

What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: covid@cnchd.org

  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.