Douglas County COVID-19 vaccine clinic opening at Wessman Arena April 13 | www.WDIO.com

Douglas County COVID-19 vaccine clinic opening at Wessman Arena April 13

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: April 08, 2021 06:20 PM
Created: April 08, 2021 10:04 AM

Wisconsin's Department of Health Services (DHS) and Gov. Tony Evers announced the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Douglas County that will be located at UW-Superior's Wessman Arena is opening April 13.

According to Evers' office, it will be the fifth DHS community-based clinic in the state to open.

“Now that everyone ages 16 and older can get vaccinated, there are more folks scheduling appointments,” said Gov. Evers in a written statement. “These community clinics help support local vaccination efforts and ensure that every Wisconsinite that wants a vaccine, can get one.”

“We are proud to have our campus serve as the site for these services as we continue to play a role in our community’s response to COVID-19,” said University of Wisconsin-Superior Chancellor Renée Wachter in a written statement.

Wessman arena's space, handicap access, and spacious parking lot is what health leaders say made it the ideal spot.

"I think it's exciting for the campus. It's a way for us to continue serving our community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We're continuing to still offer free testing for the community for anyone age five years or older so this is just a natural extension for how we're able to serve the community at this time," said Jordan Milan, a spokesperson for UW-Superior.

According to Evers' office, the Douglas County clinic plans to administer at least 200 doses per day and has the ability to do up to 500 doses per day, dependent on vaccine supply. The Pfizer vaccination will be administered at the Douglas County clinic.

The clinic will be open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Anyone ages 16 and older who lives, works, or studies in Wisconsin can schedule an appointment by using the Wisconsin COVID-19 Vaccine Registry. If a person can't schedule an appointment, they will be put on a waiting list and will be contacted when an appointment is available.

For vaccine-related questions and appointment registration help, people are asked to call 1-844-684-1064. More on the clinic can also be found on the UW-Superior website.

According to the governor's office, the DHS community-based vaccination clinic in Douglas County is operated by AMI Expeditionary Healthcare through a collaboration with UW-Superior, Douglas County Health Department and Emergency Management, and other local partners.

The locations for clinics are usually selected to address gaps in vaccine access and support vaccination efforts.

"I am very happy that they considered having this clinic up in our area. We don't get a lot of those extra resources up here in northern Wisconsin," said Kathy Ronchi, the health officer for Douglas County Public Health. "This will hopefully draw people from our surrounding counties like Bayfield, Ashland, Hayward and all of these surrounding areas."

With an uptick in cases and the COVID-19 variants spreading, health leaders say this couldn't have came at a better time.

"The more people that are vaccinated the less likely the virus will mutate and we really want to avoid that. There's still a very large percentage of people who have not yet been vaccinated. That means that we have 35-45 cases of people who are actively ill in Douglas County at any time," said Ronchi.

Ronchi said about 35 percent of people who live in Douglas County have received at least one dose of vaccine so far and about 75 percent of the 65 and older population has been vaccinated.

Ronchi said with the new clinic opening, the Douglas County Public Health Department will shift focus from community wide to targeted vulnerable people that are having more difficulty accessing vaccine such as those who are homebound or people who have mobility issues.

"The health department will continue to do vaccines on a scaled down basis. Anybody who's currently on our mailing list, we have contacted or are in the process of contacting. We will continue to follow up and make sure that they get vaccinated. We will make sure that they either get in line with this clinic or we will vaccinate them ourselves," said Ronchi.

That's why Ronchi said people on their current waiting list should check their emails for an invitation to schedule an appointment. She said if they don’t get one, they can visit the website or call.

The other DHS community-based vaccination clinics are located in: La Crosse, Marathon, Racine, and Rock. According to the governor's office, as of April 3, the sites have administered 18,505 total vaccine doses.

Milan said the COVID-19 vaccine clinic will not impact any UW-Superior student activities or sporting events.

"I think this clinic on campus is a great opportunity for our Yellowjackets to get the shot especially for residential students who may not have a car or easy access to transportation," said Milan.

"We don't have driver's licenses here as international students so it's easy for us to just walk by and get it done and walk back," said William Maanstroem, a UWS international student from Sweden who lives on campus.

His friend, Phillip Eriksen,  is also a UWS international student from Norway. They play soccer together at UWS and know all too well the challenges of getting the vaccine. They say back home it's even more difficult for their own family to get the vaccine.

"That's pretty cool for us to be able to get the vaccine because we don't get it at home," said Maanstroem. "I tested positive actually last semester so it's gonna be nice to get the vaccine," said Eriksen.

"We've already had over 200 people register for appointments in the appointment schedule and we opened up today. So far there has been a real good response and we want to keep that going," said Ronchi.

Credits

Alejandra Palacios

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