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Harrist says Omicron likely behind ‘big jumps’ in Wyoming COVID-19 case counts; WDH reports vaccine recommendation updates


CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming State Health Officer and State Epidemiologist Dr. Alexia Harrist said in a press release from the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) on Thursday that the Omicron variant is likely behind recent surges in COVID-19 infections in the state.

“We are currently seeing big jumps in Wyoming’s case counts again, likely due to the Omicron variant,” Harrist said. “This is again not like the COVID-19 we have become familiar with because it spreads much more easily between people. Unfortunately, when a virus transmits between people easily, more people become infected.”

Harrist said that variant sequencing results in Wyoming along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates show that the Omicron variant has become the most common variant causing new COVID-19 infections in the state.

“While we aren’t yet certain how much severe illness will accompany the increase in cases, we do know vaccines are the best tool we have to protect people from severe illness,” Harrist said. “We continue to encourage eligible adults and children to say yes to free, safe and effective vaccination if they haven’t already and to encourage those eligible for booster doses to get them as soon as possible to enhance and extend their protection.”

The WDH said that severe illness from COVID-19 can result in hospitalization, including the possible need for intensive care or a ventilator to help patients breathe. Severe illness can result in death.

The WDH noted that the CDC updated its vaccine recommendations this week. Booster doses are now recommended for youth ages 12-15 who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“A single booster dose of vaccine is now recommended for anyone ages 12 and over who received their second Pfizer dose at least five months ago,” the WDH said. “At this time, only the Pfizer-BioNTech/COMINARTY vaccine is authorized for individuals aged 12-17 years.”

“Adults 18 and over who received their second Moderna COVID-19 dose at least six months ago or who received a Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago are also eligible for booster doses. Mixing and matching of vaccine types for booster doses is acceptable for adults. Most children ages 5-11 are eligible for two doses of the Pfizer vaccine meant for that age group if they haven’t yet been vaccinated. A third dose for children in this age group who have moderately or seriously compromised immune systems was also authorized and recommended this week.”

The WDH noted that the updated recommendations from the CDC follow authorization from the FDA.

The WDH pointed to the following ways people can find where to get a COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Visit vaccines.gov or vacunas.gov online to search and find vaccine sites.
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) or 822862 (VACUNA) to find up to three nearby locations that have vaccines available.
  • Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline at 1-800-232-0233 for phone-based help.

“All COVID-19 vaccine doses, including boosters, continue to be offered at no cost,” the WDH said. “More information from WDH about vaccination in Wyoming can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/immunization/wyoming-covid-19-vaccine-information/.”

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.