Everyone age 16 and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccine
As of April 5, 2021, all Wisconsin residents age 16 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We expect vaccine supplies to remain steady," said Leah Eckstein, public health officer with Adams County Health and Human Services. "Everyone who wants the vaccine will eventually be able to receive it through public health, their healthcare provider or authorized pharmacies. We will continue to make every effort to vaccinate those at highest risk first such as older adults and those with existing health conditions."
The vaccine is safe and highly effective in preventing death, hospitalizations and severe COVID-19 illness. Pfizer is currently the only vaccine authorized for those age 16 and older.
Local health officials encourage those who are hesitant to get the vaccine to talk to their healthcare provider and seek information from credible sources, such as the CDC, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, or gundersenhealth.org.
"Some people are hesitant because they feel the vaccines were developed too quickly," said Richard Long, MD, medical director at Gundersen Moundview Hospital and Clinics. "No shortcuts were taken. Scientists had a head start in developing the vaccines due to earlier research on other coronaviruses such as SARS. When COVID-19 occurred, medical experts and scientists shifted their time and resources to developing vaccines. The government's emergency use authorization enabled more resources to be put toward clinical trials on people of all ages, ethnicities, and medical conditions. This shortened the review process resulting in faster public access to the vaccines."
Those who previously had COVID-19 are also encouraged to get vaccinated.
"This is a new virus and it is unclear how long natural immunity from an infection will last," said Long. "We know reinfection is uncommon within 90 days of infection, but we cannot confirm it extends beyond that. The vaccine can protect you from reinfection and from new strains of the virus."
Vaccines are available locally through public health community vaccine clinics or at Gundersen Moundview by calling (608) 339-3331 (option 2) or online for Gundersen's registered MyChart users.
The vaccines are provided at no cost, no matter where they receive it. An administration fee can be charged for giving the shot, but this fee is paid by the individual's insurance or by the federal government for those without insurance.
"COVID-19 is not going away," Eckstein said. "The more who receive the vaccine, the closer we are to achieving herd immunity and a return to a sense of normalcy."
It will take months to vaccinate all Wisconsin residents. The CDC recommends everyone, whether they are vaccinated or not, to continue to wear masks, social distance, avoid large gatherings and wash hands frequently. It is unknown at this time if vaccinated individuals can still transmit the virus.