Teton County offering additional Covid-19 shot amid ‘vaccine burnout’

The extra booster, which specifically protects against Omicron, is currently available for people who are over 65 or immunocompromised.
The bivalent vaccine has been available since fall, but the Federal Drug Administration recently approved another booster for select populations. (Focal Foto/CC by 2.0)

by | Apr 28, 2023 | COVID-19

Rates of Covid-19 are currently down in Teton County, but for some, it could be time to get a boost as the region enters the summer season.

The county’s health department began offering another round of shots Thursday to people who are over 65 or immunocompromised. 

This bivalent dose, which has been available since fall, specifically protects against the Omicron variant, as well as the original strain.

“Older individuals and people who have comorbidities or are moderately or severely immunocompromised are still ending up in the hospital,” – Rachael Wheeler, Teton County Public Health Response Coordinator.

“So potentially, for those age groups, getting an additional dose is more urgent than others,” Wheeler said.


‘Vaccine burnout’

Teton County has the highest rates of vaccination in the state: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 95% of people five and up in Teton County have received their first two shots, while the state average hovers around 50%.

The percentage of the population over age five in each Wyoming county who have received the first two shots of the Covid-19 vaccine. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

That said, in Teton County, only about half of residents 65 and older have gotten the new bivalent booster – much closer to the state average (35%).

Wheeler attributed much of this to “vaccine burnout.”

“You know, at first [health experts] were saying this and now you’re saying that,” she said. “This is a great example of how this vaccine is changing as new information comes out to make sure that it will protect our community as fast as it can.”

For the small portion of the population that remains unvaccinated, Wheeler said the department is working to disseminate information through community groups, such as Voices JH and One22. 

“We know there will always be a portion of our population who no matter what you say do not want to get vaccines,” she said. “But we are trying to work on the subsets of our population that may have misinformation or maybe the times of our vaccine clinics are too challenging because they work multiple jobs.”

Summer season travel

While Wheeler said the virus still doesn’t completely stick to a seasonal pattern, we do know one thing: more people coming and going could mean more spread.

In Teton County, the region is gearing up for an influx of visitors this summer, but it’s not just tourists who could potentially bring Covid in. 

“Our community goes places as well and they’re traveling to places that may have more Covid than others and then coming back,” Wheeler said.

To prepare, she encourages eligible residents to check in with their primary care doctor to see if another shot is the right decision for them.

Booster appointment slots are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the county’s website.

According to Wheeler, a new booster for the general population could become available come fall.


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About Hanna Merzbach

Hanna is KHOL's senior reporter and managing editor. A lot of her work focuses on housing and local politics, but also women's health — and whatever else she finds interesting. You can hear her reporting around the country and region on NPR, Wyoming Public Radio and community radio stations around the west. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she reported for outlets such as the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains.

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