Local health officials continue to follow the government's phased vaccine distribution guidelines by vaccinating those at greatest risk, including healthcare personnel, law enforcement, fire departments and long-term care residents. Due to limited supply, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be widely available for some time.
"As of Jan. 8, 90 hospital and clinic employees have been vaccinated," said Brad Shaw, pharmacy manager, Gundersen Moundview Hospital and Clinics. "We expect to complete vaccination of our employees by Jan. 22. We are also vaccinating personnel from other area healthcare agencies, law enforcement and fire departments as they reach out to us."
Gundersen Moundview is working with public health departments in Adams and Marquette counties to ensure all who meet the 1A guidelines and want the vaccine can receive it. Those who meet phase 1A guidelines can call the hospital at (608) 339-3331, public health in Adams County at (608) 339-4559 or Marquette County at (608) 297-3135 to make arrangements.
The 1A guidelines define healthcare personnel as individuals working at hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, home health care, pharmacies, emergency medical services and public health. Law enforcement and fire departments were recently added to 1A. Residents at skilled nursing facilities, assisted living and other residential care facilities are also included. Most long-term care facilities will be vaccinated by contracted retail pharmacies.
Shaw said there have been no severe reactions to the vaccine locally. Some have experienced common side effects like the flu vaccine, such as soreness at the injection site.
"I was vaccinated because I wanted to protect my patients, family and friends," said Jen Nawrot, a registered nurse in Gundersen Moundview's Emergency Department. "I strongly recommend that everyone get the vaccine once it becomes available to them. It is especially important if you have a high-risk job or an underlying health condition."
"I wasn't nervous about getting the vaccine," said Lisa Massen, specialty clinic manager at Gundersen Moundview. "The COVID-19 vaccines were held to the same safety standards as all other vaccines. I chose to be vaccinated for everyone around me – my family, coworkers, community and patients. It will allow me to care for my patients knowing I will not spread the virus to them. The more people who become vaccinated, the less the virus will spread in the community."
Local health officials anticipate moving to phase 1B vaccine distribution in the coming weeks to month. As they move into the next phase, the public health departments and Gundersen Moundview will work together to contact the groups who will be eligible for the vaccine. Information will also be promoted through local newspaper, radio, Facebook and websites.
Currently, area residents who are considered high risk (those age 65 and older and immune-compromised individuals) may call Gundersen Moundview at (608) 339-3331 to be placed on a vaccine waiting list. The hospital will contact them to schedule an immunization appointment when the vaccine becomes available to them.
Both public health departments and Gundersen Moundview remind everyone to not let their guard down. The pandemic is not over. We must continue to take steps to protect ourselves and those around us by masking, distancing, limiting gatherings with others, washing or sanitizing hands frequently and staying home when they have symptoms.
For up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit local public health and hospital Facebook pages at Adams County Public Health, Marquette County Health Department, Gundersen Moundview, Gundersen's COVID page or Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services COVID vaccine page.
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