LARAMIE — An effort by the University of Wyoming Extension and Wyoming 2-1-1 to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in Wyoming is appealing to the state’s individualism but also its reputation for neighbors looking out for neighbors.
“The choice to vaccinate is a personal one, but one that has communal impacts,” said Kali McCrackin Goodenough in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Our work to increase confidence in COVID-19 vaccination is built on the Wyoming spirit of taking care of each other and protecting one another.”
The campaign started with a national effort by the extension services at land-grant universities and in Wyoming was initially focused on at-risk populations. Since then, COVID-19 has changed and the campaign has evolved with it, she said.
“The landscape is changing quickly,” said McCrackin Goodenough, based in the Cent$ible Nutrition Program (CNP).
“We are taking a broader approach to encourage everyone to consider vaccination as well as reach at-risk populations,” she said. “One of the themes that keeps coming up is that in rural states like Wyoming, people are often more trusting of the voices in their own social circles than of mainstream media or other resources.”
The campaign includes Wyoming residents sharing their vaccination stories in a series of videos.
“This effort is from Wyoming, for Wyoming,” McCrackin Goodenough said.
The videos will be on the WY VAX UP site, and McCrackin Goodenough said the videos are posted through UW Extension to social media platforms like YouTube.
The campaign also encourages people to use the hashtag #WyIVaxUp to share their stories through Facebook and other social media platforms.
“We are looking for real voices, real Wyoming people talking about why vaccination is important and how it made a difference in their lives,” she said.
The campaign also includes working with the Shoshone Tribal Health, creating a series of billboards, developing FAQ sheets, and a youth campaign through Pandora, social media and web information.
A webpage for youth and their parents is available at bit.ly/youth-vax-up.
About 34% of Wyoming residents are fully vaccinated as of Aug. 9, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. Crook and Campbell counties have the lowest rates at about 19%. Teton is highest at about 71%.
That information is updated continually and is available at bit.ly/wyo-vax-rates.
McCrackin Goodenough said the UWE effort links to resources that already exist, like the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Wyoming 2-1-1. Wyoming 2-1-1, in partnership with the WDH, houses the Wyoming COVID-19 Aging Network (CAN) focused on maintaining the health of home-bound elders in Wyoming.
Wyoming COVID-19 vaccine information and where vaccinations are being offered in Wyoming counties, testing sites, and other COVID-19 information, such as travel and housing assistance, is available. The Wyoming 2-1-1 page is at https://wy211.communityos.org/covid19-faqs.
“The overall goal of the campaign nationally and our work locally is to create confidence in vaccination,” said McCrackin Goodenough. “We offer the facts and encourage Wyoming citizens to think about people they care about and how to protect them.”
Information about Vaccinate Up can be found at www.uwyo.edu/uwe/vax-up.