Juneau, Sauk Co. building up plans for mass vaccine rollout

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 9:32 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2021 at 10:20 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As many await their turn for a COVID-19 vaccine, public health officials are laying the groundwork for a mass rollout.

Sauk County health providers shared what they knew so far, taking vaccine-related questions from the community Thursday night: “Why should I get vaccinated when it’s my turn?”

Maureen Murphy, family medicine physician at a Wisconsin Dells clinic, said, in part, “One thing you can do to help keep each other healthy, support our health care workers and get Sauk County back on its feet is to get vaccinated.”

When he’s not talking about the COVID-19 vaccine, Jeff Jelinek, Sauk County’s emergency management director, said he’s working on bringing it to everyone when the time comes.

“We have a limited amount of vaccine that’s available right now to the state and to Sauk County, so the key word there is people having patience,” he said.

Specifically, Jelinek said he has told state officials his county is interested in opening a mass vaccination clinic, though the plan isn’t to rely on a single community site, rather many hospital partners. According to Jelinek, Sauk County is also piloting a vaccine program with the National Guard.

“We’ve got a good process already,” he said. “We have already done three clinics. Today’s our third. We’re actually starting to ramp up for more in February. The coordination is key here.”

In Juneau County, Tara Ennis, a public health supervisor, said work has already gone into identifying potential vaccine sites as well as population sizes. “We’re looking at doing more satellite-based in all of our communities,” she said, adding the goal is to reach all the municipalities in the rural county. “As we enter more mass immunization it’ll probably turn less appointment-based and more first-come, first-serve.”

Ennis said she has more work to do, including coordinating with vaccinators, ranging from EMS and pharmacists to retired nurses.

Whether she feels she will have enough hands to administer the vaccines, depends on “how quickly everything opens,” Ennis said. “If in two months [the vaccine is] open to everybody, it may be more than our staff can handle, but I think we’re in a strong place right now.”

As state health officials have stressed the need for vaccinating and testing to go hand in hand, Sauk County said the key in accomplishing this is its EMS and hospital partners. Juneau County said the National Guard will be instrumental, as the unit is set to help until early March.

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