Wyoming Health Officials See ‘Alarming’ 42% Drop in Immunizations Amid Pandemic
The number of immunizations given by Wyoming health providers has fallen by almost half amid the COVID-19 pandemic, shocking state health officials.
Wyoming Department of Health officials say they are alarmed by the 42% decrease in immunizations provided in April 2020 compared to the figure from April 2019.
Meanwhile, the total number of vaccine doses ordered by health providers in the state dropped by 25% for the month of April compared to the same month last year.
“It appears the pandemic’s uncertainty and challenges have resulted in the postponement of routine well-child visits, which typically include immunizations,” said Jude Alden, Immunization Unit manager with WDH. “While we recognize the reasons for the decrease, we also want to encourage families to stay on track and to schedule appointments to make up any immunizations that may have been missed.”
It's a trend seen not just in Wyoming, but across the nation, the department said in a statement Tuesday, citing data published earlier this month by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
State Health Officer Alexia Harrist says she is concerned that postponing immunizations and routine health checks could increase the risk of Wyoming families contracting diseases like measles and whooping cough, which can be prevented with a vaccine.
“We definitely do not want outbreaks of other dangerous diseases to unexpectedly grow in Wyoming while we are still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic," Harrist said in the department's news release. “It is critical for infants, young children, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses to continue maintaining routine immunizations during the pandemic to help prevent further outbreaks."
Clinics across the state are working to ensure safe access for patients during routine visits, Harrist added. Those measures include the following:
- Designating specific entrances, hours and exam rooms;
- Scheduling well visits and sick visits separately;
- Checking in patients outside of the clinic and allowing them to wait in the parking lot until appointment times;
- Allowing one caregiver to accompany a child to the clinic;
- Cleaning and disinfecting exam rooms between patients; and
- Encouraging all patients to wear cloth face coverings as they enter the clinic.
For information regarding Wyoming's public vaccine program eligibility, mandatory reporting or accessing the Wyoming Immunization Registry, call the department's Immunization Unit at 307-777-7952 or visit immunizewyoming.com.