Jodie Savage receives the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from maternal child health registered nurse Lennea Ramirez Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department. The health department released updated guidelines Monday about who is newly eligible to receive the vaccine, which includes employees of public transportation, grocery stores and the Postal Service, as well as people with medical conditions. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Though some Wyomingites are still skeptical about the vaccine, or waiting for an upcoming appointment, more than 20% of Laramie County has now been vaccinated against COVID-19.

As of Thursday, at least 22,489 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had been distributed in Laramie County, along with at least 1,177 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to data provided by the Wyoming Department of Health. The numbers are likely higher, as this data can be up to 72 hours behind.

More than 15,700 Laramie County residents have received both doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and are now fully vaccinated, along with those who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said Kathy Emmons, executive director of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department.

Ben Trammell, a longtime Cheyenne resident, said he received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday. When asked why he chose to get vaccinated for COVID-19, Trammell said, “Short answer: Why wouldn’t I? Long answer: I got the vaccine because it is the right and responsible thing to do. We should all get a COVID-19 vaccine, if we can. While I know there are some that cannot for various reasons, if you can, you should. It protects the person getting it and all the people around them.”

Trammell said he was never skeptical about the potential vaccines, but he was initially cautious, devoting time to research and follow the science as it was developing.

“I found the collaboration from around the world fascinating,” he said. “So, I wasn’t really all that surprised when (the COVID-19 vaccines) started getting approval. I admit that I was still surprised at how fast it happened, but I knew the science, and they worked.”

Most people Trammell knows plan to receive the vaccine, he said – in fact, when he heard eligibility in the county was opened to all adults, he called, texted and messaged several of his family and friends to spread the word. He even shared the information in a group chat at work.

Still, there are some in Trammell’s life who don’t plan to get the vaccine.

“Most of the friends and family that I know that are not getting it are mostly ones that have let the lies and conspiracies scare them into not getting it,” Trammell said.

Others he knows are avoiding it because they’ve had bad reactions to vaccines in the past. But Trammell said he hopes those people will work with their doctors to figure out what’s best for them.

“Above all, I just want people to be safe in all this,” he said.

Hillary Hardy, marketing and communications director for Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, has received both doses of the Moderna vaccine. She said she wanted to get the vaccine so she could safely spend time with her parents and parents-in-law, and to help protect her sister, who has Crohn’s disease.

“I trust the scientists, and so to me it wasn’t a question of getting it done – it was when was I going to be able to do it,” she said.

Hardy said her arm was sore, and that after her second dose, she had a fever and was tired. Her husband had similar symptoms and was fatigued. But for them, the side effects were more than worth it.

“It was pretty easy – I mean, if you think about the people that have been in the hospital with COVID, it’s better than that alternative,” she said.

Hardy, 41, said she has several friends around her age who are skeptical about the vaccine’s long-term effectiveness and are waiting to see how things play out. But from Hardy’s perspective, the sooner everyone gets vaccinated, the sooner life can return to normal.

“We keep saying we don’t want to wear masks, we don’t want to be not able to go to dinner, we want to be able to just do everything we used to do. But we have to be thoughtful, because we’re in a pandemic, whether we like it or not,” Hardy said. “The more people we get vaccinated, the quicker we can hopefully get back to doing everything we were doing before, and that is what I want to be able to do. ... I just think if people would sit back and think about the things that they want to do and helping others who are at higher risk of getting sick, then I think that we can move on with our lives.”

Hardy’s 17-year-old son, Aleczander, who received the Pfizer vaccine, said he wanted to get vaccinated “so we could get closer to not having to wear masks anymore,” and to get closer to normal.

As for his experience actually receiving the vaccine, things went smoothly.

“It was really fast and really easy,” Aleczander Hardy said. “It took longer waiting afterward than it did actually having to wait to get the shot.”

Other Laramie County residents shared their reasons for getting the vaccine on Facebook:

“I received my first Moderna vaccine on Monday. My arm was sore, and I had a slight headache, but nothing crazy,” Thea Moats said. “I got vaccinated so I could see some of my family again (whom have also been vaccinated), but most importantly, my 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia in November and has gone through immunosuppressive therapy, meaning she has no immune system. She now must receive a bone marrow transplant (if we find a donor), and it is vital my family and I keep her away from any and everything harmful, as a common cold could kill her. Receiving the vaccine helps us check off one worry on our list.”

“I’ve received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine,” Rachael Heyborne Pivik said. “The first one just resulted in a sore arm. The second, I had a mild fever for a day. Both times, the clinic had a celebratory atmosphere. Every shot is one tiny step closer to normal.”

“I got my first Moderna shot and experienced one day of muscle aches. I get my second one April 13,” Sue Anderson said. “I am getting them so I can guarantee myself that I have done all I can to protect myself and those around me from this virus. It is the right thing to do for me.”

“I got Pfizer. Same day that I called around looking for an appointment,” Lindsay Canterbury Simineo said. “Had a headache with shot one and bad chills with shot two. Now I just feel like a boss bh.”

Hannah Black is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at hblack@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahcblack.

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