CASPER — Wyoming’s youngsters have at least one thing in common with their parents — they are among the least vaccinated groups in the nation.
According to a New York Times data analysis, Wyoming has the nation’s fifth-lowest youth COVID-19 vaccination rate. Just 12% of state residents 12 to 17 years old have received one shot. Just over 4% are fully vaccinated, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.
The shots are more limited for young people. Pfizer’s is the only vaccine approved for those under 18 years of age, and not every Wyoming county has the infrastructure to store those vaccines, which require a special type of freezer to maintain ultra-low temperatures.
Still, most of the country vastly outpaces the Equality State when it comes to getting shots in the arms of both children and adults.
The national leader is Vermont, which has given 58% of those between 15 and 17 years old at least one vaccine dose. About 27% of teens in that age group nationwide have received at least one shot.
Kim Deti, spokesperson for Wyoming’s Department of Health, called the state’s low vaccination rate “disappointing.”
“While we know [the elderly] have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infections, anyone of any age can get ill and can pass it on to others who may be more vulnerable,” Deti said via email. “The truth is healthy children are also at risk for getting COVID-19 and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.”
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published June 4 concluded that “recent increased hospitalization rates and the potential for severe disease reinforce the importance of continued COVID-19 prevention measures among adolescents, including vaccination and correct and consistent wearing of masks.” Deti echoed that conclusion, saying that the “vast majority” of new coronavirus cases are in people who aren’t fully vaccinated.
Wyoming adults are also getting vaccinated at a lower rate than most of the U.S. The state ranks fifth-lowest for the proportion of fully-vaccinated residents.