Working together with school districts, SSM Health has developed a model for hosting large COVID-19 vaccinations, expediting the process of ending the pandemic.

Approximately 1,200 workers received COVID-19 vaccines at Waunakee High School Friday morning at that community clinic. Among them were 400 Dane County librarians, who got their first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

The vaccine clinic paves the way for some smaller Dane County libraries to begin fully reopening. In some communities, smaller libraries have offered curbside pickup services only, along with limited use of the facilities by appointment this past year. 

Teachers from the Waunakee and Sauk Prairie districts received their second vaccine after receiving the first at the high school clinic March 2.

SSM Health began talking with Waunakee school district administrators in January about possibly organizing clinics, said Brian Grabarski, Waunakee district’s human resources director. When Waunakee’s clinic was planned with SSM Health and school nursing staff administering the shots, SSM Health asked if Sauk Prairie teachers could be included, with nursing staff from that school, Grabarski said. EMTs from Dane County Emergency Management and the Waunakee EMS area also volunteered as vaccinators.

The second clinic for teachers had been set, but Grabarski was then asked if librarians could attend for a first dose.

“SSM Health approached us a week ago and said they found additional vaccines for librarians and asked if they join them,” he said. “This has been a wonderful partnership between SSM Health and us and the community.”

Nolan Veldey of the DeForest Public Library received his vaccine. He said his family has been vaccinated, and he is looking forward to being able to visit with them in person.

Randy Guttenberg, Waunakee school district administrator, looked on as teachers and librarians took a step toward immunity at the day-long clinic.

“I think it’s exciting. We’re able to have a big clinic to house SSM Health and make it possible to get vaccinated,” Guttenberg said. “It puts us in a place where we are able to be safer.”

The Waunakee school district clinic became a model for others, and now 14 have been held, said Kim Sveum, SSM Health spokesperson.

Along with the Waunakee clinic, similar clinics have vaccinated educators from Sun Prairie, Baraboo, Wisconsin Dells, Lodi, Madison, McFarland, Whitewater, Fort Atkinson and Milton, Sveum said.

Some St. John's teachers also participated in the Waunakee clinic. Sveum said a clinic was also held at Queen of Peace Parish in Madison to vaccinate teachers from seven parochial schools.

Other mobile clinics at Madison College campuses in Watertown and Fort Atkinson provided vaccines for teachers in 11 different school districts along with 11 different parochial schools at one event, according to Sveum.

SSM Health also used the clinic model for a March 25 event at a Madison restaurant to vaccinate 230 restaurant workers eligible for the vaccine in the 1b tier as essential workers, Sveum said.

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