CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A registered nurse who does coronavirus testing and contact tracing got Wyoming's first COVID-19 vaccination Tuesday.
Terry Thayn's regular job is overseeing maternal and child health matters for the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department. This year, she has been busy working to contain the virus.
"I was excited for the vaccine," Thayn said after getting the shot at a health department news conference. "Whenever it was here, I was taking it."
Thayn is set to get a follow-up shot of the Pfizer vaccine in three weeks.
Her initial dose came from a shipment of 975 in a box that arrived Monday at the health department. Three-quarters of the doses were headed to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, one of Wyoming's biggest hospitals where health care workers were set to get their first shots Tuesday.
The remaining doses were destined for health department employees, firefighters and other front-line workers in the Cheyenne area.
The Casper-Natrona County Health Department also got a 975-dose package of the Pfizer vaccine. Hospitals in Cody, Jackson and Gillette were scheduled to get identical shipments no later than Tuesday, Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti said.
She identified Thayn as Wyoming's first vaccine recipient.
Small glass vials of the vaccine came packaged in a box within a box and were kept cold by dry ice. Trial shipments of empty boxes preceded the vaccine shipments to help ensure correct delivery, Deti said.
Wyoming could get 5,000 or so doses of the separate Moderna vaccine next week with federal authorization, Deti said. Medical workers in direct contact with patients and people especially vulnerable to the virus who live in long-term care facilities will be the first to get inoculated under Wyoming's distribution plan.
Active cases of the coronavirus have been in decline in Wyoming for a couple weeks, falling to about 2,800 this week after topping 9,000 over Thanksgiving. Even so, the number of people known to have COVID-19 who had not yet recovered was over five times last summer's rate.
Active cases this week account for about 1 in 200 Wyoming residents. Statewide, hospitals reported 178 patients with COVID-19.
Almost 35,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 321 have died of the virus in Wyoming since the pandemic began, according to state health officials.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.