COVID-19 Vaccination Update

Written by Jessica Meadows & Jenna Flynn

COVID-19 vaccination clinics have been taking place in various healthcare facilities across Marathon County and our state throughout December 2020 and January 2021. The rollout of the vaccine has been introduced in phases thus far, beginning first with healthcare workers and long-term care staff and residents. You may have seen an infographic on the Marathon County Health Department website that looked something like this:

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout infographic
Graphic from Marathon County Health Department website. Updated Feb. 1, 2021.

At the time of publication of this article, however, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services made it known that they are transitioning away from the use of language describing each population eligible for vaccine as a “phase” (e.g., Phase 1A, Phase 1B, Phase 1C). While they are still using a phased approach to determine which populations will be eligible for the vaccine, they will now categorize groups using the following terminology: “currently eligible populations” and “next groups eligible.”

Get the latest status of the COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout in Marathon County.

The initial vaccine rollout included employees of and those served by North Central Health Care (NCHC). NCHC operates 2 long-term care facilities: Mount View Care Center in Wausau and Pine Crest Nursing Home in Merrill. Planning for the rollout of the vaccine for hundreds of employees and residents requires effective communication and careful coordination. NCHC assembled a vaccination planning team to address administration, policy, infection prevention, and communication for the COVID-19 vaccine to residents and staff. The team is led by Jaime Bracken, Chief Nursing Officer at NCHC and includes leadership from Infection Prevention, Skilled Nursing, Operations Management, and Communications. NCHC works closely with the Department of Health Services and will follow the guidance of the Wisconsin Vaccination Program.

1st NCHC employee getting vaccine
The first NCHC employee to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at Mount View Care Center. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Meadows.)

In partnership with Walgreens, NCHC held the first of their vaccination clinics inside Mount View Care Center in late December 2020 and throughout January 2021. The goal was to provide the opportunity for nursing home staff and residents to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine quickly and efficiently. At the time of publication of this article, over 550 employees have received their first dose of the vaccine, along with 183 nursing home residents at Mount View Care Center and Pine Crest Nursing Home. Watch this local media coverage.

MVCC employee getting vaccine
The Director of Nursing at Mount View Care Center receives her COVID-19 vaccine from a Walgreens pharmacist at the clinic on January 5. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Meadows.)

Healthcare employees were able to sign up online, and the staff at Mount View Care Center worked with families and residents throughout December 2020 to educate, answer questions, and complete the consent forms necessary to prepare for vaccine administration. A COVID-19 Vaccination page was created on NCHC’s website to help families learn more and make informed decisions.

What questions do people have about the COVID-19 vaccine?

Many of the questions that were asked by staff, residents, and families focused on the safety of the vaccine and on side effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published information online regarding safety and frequently asked questions. All the COVID-19 vaccines being used have gone through rigorous studies to ensure they are as safe as possible. Systems that allow the CDC to watch for safety issues are in place across the entire country.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines that have been shown to meet rigorous safety criteria and be effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials. Watch a video describing the emergency use authorization. Clinical trials for all vaccines must first show they meet rigorous criteria for safety and effectiveness before any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, can be authorized or approved for use. The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine. Learn more about how federal partners are ensuring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.

Another NCHC employee gets vaccine
The Infection Preventionist at NCHC received his COVID-19 vaccine at the nursing home vaccination clinic. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Meadows.)

The clinics held at North Central Health Care went smoothly and no serious reactions were reported with staff or residents. As with any vaccination, there were reports of soreness at the site of injection and a few reports of common side effects such as chills, tiredness, and headaches; however, employees reported the side effects did not last long and resolved quickly. Read more about what to expect after getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

Where can you find more information about the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The Marathon County Health Department has a special Vaccine Information page online dedicated to getting the latest updates. There are specific subsections for healthcare workers, first responders/EMS, and those 65 years of age and older.

So… when and where can the rest of us get the vaccine?

The short answer is: We don’t know exactly.

The vaccine is becoming more available each week, so it’s important for everyone to be educated, ask questions, and remain alert for changes to the local vaccination programs planned in our area. When local health officials know the vaccine will be made available to you, announcements will be made through the media or via the Marathon County Health Department’s website.

Sign up for COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Updates

You can sign up for Marathon County COVID-19 vaccine rollout updates here.

The vaccine is available through healthcare providers and will be available at pharmacies in the future. Because the distribution system of the vaccine is complex, vaccine availability will vary between counties and states, so it’s important to stay connected with the rollout plans and notifications from your local health department.

The goal of the Marathon County Health Department is that
everyone who wants the COVID-19 vaccine will get one.

This will take time.

Our appreciation goes out to all those dedicated to the rollout and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, all those operating testing sites, all those caring for those who are ill, and everyone working to prevent the spread of illness. Together, we are working toward Marathon County’s overarching goal to be the healthiest, safest, and most prosperous county in Wisconsin.

Jessica_MeadowsJessica Meadows

Communications & Marketing Director  |  North Central Health Care

As the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at North Central Health Care (NCHC), Jessica Meadows is passionate about being able to use her creative talents to connect people to healthcare, resources, and networking that will impact their life in a positive way. Prior to joining NCHC, she was a Creative Director and leader at a marketing agency in the Stevens Point area. With almost 20 years’ experience in print, web, social media, video, radio, and public relations, it was important for her to connect back to her roots here in the Wausau area, where she and her husband raise their two young children. When she’s not busy at an event or volunteering, she enjoys playing sports, coaching, biking, traveling, and exploring the outdoors.  Email Jessica Meadows.

Jenna_FlynnJenna Flynn

Public Health Educator | Marathon County Health Department
Tobacco Control Coordinator | Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition

Jenna Flynn is a Public Health Educator with the Marathon County Health Department and serves as the Tobacco Control Coordinator for the Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition. Jenna holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Public Health. She grew up in Northern Wisconsin and is proud to serve the central region. In her free time, Jenna enjoys coaching and playing volleyball, cooking, and participating in the many outdoor activities that Wisconsin has to offer.  Email Jenna Flynn.

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