New groups become eligible for COVID-19 vaccine starting March 1
Starting March 1, 2021, several new populations will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine per recently updated state government guidelines. Local health officials ask for patience as they prioritize the vaccination of eligible groups.
"Vaccine supplies continue to be limited," said Leah Eckstein, public health officer with Adams County Health and Human Services. "Although new groups have become eligible, we must make every effort to vaccinate those over age 65 and other previously eligible groups before we start vaccinating individuals who become eligible on March 1."
Those eligible as of March 1 include education and childcare staff, individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline essential health care personnel, and staff and residents in congregate living facilities. Public Health has reached out to several area businesses to inform them of their upcoming eligibility.
Included in the public-facing essential workers group are utility and communications infrastructure, public transit and food supply chain (i.e. agriculture production workers, farmers, those providing support to agricultural operations, food production workers such as dairy, meat and produce processing plans, retail food workers such as grocery, gas and convenience stores and hunger relief personnel such as charitable and community food distribution.
Vaccine appointments are available locally through public health or Gundersen Moundview Hospital and Clinics. Those scheduling an appointment will be asked to provide verification that they meet vaccine eligibility requirements. For example, they may be asked for a pay stub or employment ID badge and may also be asked to sign an attestation form.
Because the number of eligible individuals has significantly increased, yet vaccine allocations have not, Adams County Public Health will keep a list of people who are currently eligible with prioritization of those who were eligible prior to March 1. Adams County Public Health is changing their scheduling process to ensure they are able to prioritize appointments. Starting March 5, they will ask eligible individuals interested in the Covid-19 vaccine to call (608) 339-4559 to be prioritized until a new system is put in place.
Appointments can also be made at Gundersen Moundview for upcoming community vaccine clinics or at Friendship Clinic by calling (608) 339-3331 (choose option 2) or online for registered MyChart users.
"I encourage everyone who becomes eligible for the vaccine to receive it as soon as they are able," said Quinn Holzheimer, DO, emergency department physician at Gundersen Moundview Hospital and Clinics. "The more who get vaccinated, the less this virus will spread and we can begin to resume our normal lives."
"I have no concerns about the safety of the vaccine," said Dr. Holzheimer. "The vaccines have been held to the same safety standards as all other vaccines. They were scientifically reviewed and approved through large clinical trials on people of all ages, races, ethnicities and medical conditions. No shortcuts were taken. I was one of the first employees to receive the vaccine at Gundersen Moundview in December."
The vaccines are provided at no cost to individuals, 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.
It will take many months to vaccinate all Wisconsin residents. Please continue to protect yourself and those around you by staying at home as much as possible, wearing a mask in public, staying at least six feet from others, and washing your hands frequently.