As thousands of doses of vaccine arrive each week in Jefferson County, health officials say 25 percent of residents have rolled up their sleeves to get at least one dose as of Wednesday.
Gail Scott, director of the Jefferson County Health Department, said the rollout has gone well and the county continues to make strides to vaccinate anyone who has been eligible at the Fair Park location in Jefferson.
“We’ve also been able to hold an on-site clinic for a business with many eligible employees and some people who are home-bound,” she said. “We hope to do more in the near future.”
The county is roughly a third of the way to herd immunity and 69.1 percent of those ages 65 and older having at least one dose, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
For those who have become eligible as of last week with pre-existing conditions or are essential workers — like those in the food industry — Scott said they should sign up online or call if they do not have internet access.
“Wait times to get an appointment will be dependent on how much interest we get and our weekly vaccine allocation,” she said.
For those wanting to decide what vaccine they should get, Scott said currently there is no way to do that at the Fair Park site. County officials have asked the state to ship any doses available. So, one week could be the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; the next could be Moderna, which is a two-shot vaccine.
“In an effort to offer a vaccine to as many people as quickly as possible, we’ve told the state that we will accept any of the available vaccines,” she said.
Scott said the health department is trying to provide people with information on what vaccine they are expecting each week.
“Currently there is not an ability to let people choose their vaccine upon arrival,” she said.
With high demand for the vaccine, there usually is no extra vaccine, but if there are extra doses during a week, those are offered to eligible people, Scott said.
“There’s no ‘wait list’ for end of day extra vaccine,” she said. “We have been able to use every dose and have not had to discard any unused doses. We count throughout the clinic day and make sure we know exactly how many doses we have to give.”
So far in Jefferson County, 29.3% of women in the county have taken at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 20.6% for men.
The county has received about 4,000 doses a week since the last week in February.
Across the state, 26.3 percent of people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 15 percent fully vaccinated.
The county in Wisconsin that has vaccinated the most residents is Bayfield, with 49.1 percent. The least is Taylor County with 15.9%.
A little more than 1.5 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the state.
Scott said the best way to find information on how to sign up can be found at https://sites.google.com/view/jeffersoncountywicovid-19/vaccine.
Those that do not have reliable access to the internet can call the health department to be put on a list to be called to make an appointment at (920) 674-7275.
For those who are taking the shot through Fort HealthCare, the signup form is at https://www.forthealthcare.com/covid-19-vaccine-sign-up-form/. People also can call their primary care clinic, as well.
Last week, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called on the state’s business community to return workers to offices around the Fourth of July.
Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu offered rare praise for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration, giving it credit for increasing vaccinations.
“We don’t keep people going through all this rigmarole, which was necessary for a certain amount of time, but we’re now moving beyond it,” Vos said. “It’s up to the business community to step up with government to show the world that we can safely reopen and not have this pandemic hangover really impact our economy going forward in way that none of us want.”
Although coronavirus spread has slowed since the start of vaccinations, infection rates have jumped in some states, including Michigan. There still are 50,000 cases per day of the virus being reported in the United States.
Wisconsin’s increasing vaccination rate, and its continued drops in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths all are positive signs, though, LeMahieu said.
“I’m just encouraged by the trend we’re on,” he said. “I think sooner rather than later we need to return to whatever that new normal is.”
On Wednesday, there were 776 people in Wisconsin who tested positive for the virus. There have been 8,020 people who have had the virus in Jefferson County in the last year.
The White House said on Wednesday 27 million doses of vaccines will be distributed next week. Seventy percent of Americans 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.