MADISON (WKOW) – SSM Health opened an additional COVID-19 vaccination site in Sun Prairie Tuesday for frontline health care workers.
Officials say this additional vaccination site was opened to help expand vaccine access to unaffiliated 1A health care workers like dentists, private practice providers, school nurses and others who qualify under the Wisconsin Department of Health’s definition.
"With being a supervisor on call, from house to house to house, it's definitely most important that the elderly people we serve are the people we want to protect," says group home supervisor Soloman Bass after receiving his vaccination.
As Wisconsin moves closer to expanding vaccination efforts to the next priority group – frontline essential workers and adults over the age of 75 – SSM Health officials say they are making necessary operational changes to provide adequate vaccination sites.. Officials say ten vaccination sites will be working to vaccinate unaffiliated 1A health care workers over time.
SSM Health is also providing second rounds of COVID-19 vaccinations.
"We have given already four thousand second doses," says SSM Health Regional Vice President of Pharmacy Mo Kharbat says.
Mercyhealth Janesville officials say they began administering second vaccine doses Tuesday to front line health care workers who were originally vaccinated last month.
Kharbat says the second vaccine dose is vital.
"It takes the second dose, the booster dose to get the immune response as effective as ninety-five percent of the time in preventing the disease," Kharbat says, referring to results from a study carried out by Pfizer that led to the vaccine's approval.
The limitations of the first vaccine were demonstrated by the case of New Jersey Congresswoman Bonnie Coleman, who tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering in place with colleagues during last week's storming of the U.S. Capitol. Coleman had previously received a first, Pfizer vaccine dose.
Kharbat says his health system's inventory of vaccine doses is sufficient for meeting the needs of the category of essential health care workers who are eligible for vaccine at this time.
"As we expand the vaccination efforts to phases 1B and 1C, which encompass larger groups of the community in general, I don't think we currently have enough doses to keep up with that demand," Kharbat says.
Kharbat says and he other stakeholders involved in delivering vaccine in Wisconsin are pushing to increase vaccine supply to meet the coming demand.
To date, SSM Health officials say they've been in contact with nearly 200 organizations across their service area that qualify to be vaccinated in the 1A priority group. Officials say they will work directly with these organizations and public health officials to provide vaccinations as quickly as possible.