By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Getting a booster dose of the COVID vaccine seems to make all the difference when it comes to COVID infections and related hospitalizations, according to the Laramie County Health Department’s executive director.
As was the case last week, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center has more vaccinated people hospitalized than non-vaccinated. However, county Health Department Director Kathy Emmons questioned if patients designated as being “fully vaccinated” had received a booster shot.
“There is a difference between people who have gotten the vaccine and those who have gotten the vaccine and booster,” Emmons said.
Of the 43 patients hospitalized Monday at CRMC, 26 were considered fully vaccinated. However, only three of those vaccinated had received the booster shot, hospital spokeswoman Kathy Baker told Cowboy State Daily.
“Only three of the Covid positive patients that we are currently treating have received their booster shot,” she said. “And the ages of the patients at CRMC who are COVID positive range from 21 to 91 years, so people of all ages are still being hospitalized because of the virus.”
Of the three patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit, two were fully vaccinated, and one was not.
Additionally, of the three deaths the hospital saw over the last week of the month, two were fully vaccinated and one was not.
However, no one was on a ventilator, vaccinated or not.
Echoing comments by Wyoming State Public Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist, Emmons said with the Omicron variant, patients tend to be sick for shorter periods of time and seem to experience much milder symptoms, especially if they are fully vaccinated and boosted.
“It appears that the people who are hospitalized now are much different than those who were hospitalized three months ago, because with the Delta variant, people would be in the hospital for quite a long time,” Emmons said. “They were there for weeks, if not months, and would be on ventilators. But it is important to note that now, we’re seeing a lot of positive cases, but they’re nowhere near as sick as with the Delta variant.”
Anecdotally and statistically, Emmons said that people are less likely to catch COVID if they have been fully vaccinated and received a booster shot. She noted that it is possible for someone to have received all doses of the vaccine and still catch the virus, but they are becoming infected at lesser rates than people who have received all of their vaccine doses, but not a booster.
“We strongly encourage people to get their vaccinations and to not forget that booster,” she said.
As of Monday, 165 patients across the state were hospitalized due to COVID.