Recommendations involving vaccine booster doses have been updated as the COVID-19 Omicron variant quickly spreads in Wyoming and across the nation, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said recent variant sequencing results combined with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates show the Omicron variant has quickly become the most common version causing new COVID-19 infections in Wyoming.
“We are currently seeing big jumps in Wyoming’s case counts again, likely due to the Omicron variant. This is again not like the COVID-19 we have become familiar with because it spreads much more easily between people,” Harrist said. “Unfortunately, when a virus transmits between people easily more people become infected.”
“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,” she 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.”
Severe illness means a person with COVID-19 may need hospitalization, intensive care or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may die.
The CDC updated its vaccine recommendations this week to include booster doses for fully vaccinated youth ages 12-15. 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. 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 updated booster recommendations from CDC followed authorization by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Convenient ways to find where to get COVID-19 vaccines include:
· 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.
More information from WDH about vaccination in Wyoming can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/immunization/wyoming-covid-19-vaccine-information/.