The Rock County COVID-19 vaccination clinic site that opened Tuesday was identified by the state to reach underserved residents and those who do not have health insurance, according to Gov. Tony Evers.
The governor toured the state’s first community vaccination clinic, located at Blackhawk Technical College, on Feb. 10 with officials from the Rock County Public Health Department and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare — the company tasked with operating the site and distributing vaccines.
“The fact is that in Rock County, Walworth County and Green County, there are lots of folks who aren’t part of a health system or don’t have health insurance,” Evers said. “We want to make sure that this site is a home for these people.”
It is estimated that 9% of Rock County residents are uninsured, according to a 2017 health needs assessment by the Rock County Public Health Department.
America’s Health Rankings by the United Health Foundation shows that in 2019, 5.7% of all Wisconsin residents do not have health coverage compared to the national average of 9.2% without health benefits.
AMI Expeditionary Healthcare Senior Operations Manager Dan Beck said Blackhawk Technical College’s previous experience with mobile testing and vaccination events were a “concept that fits well” in opening the vaccine clinic.
“This entire project is a partnership and the only way to meet those challenges is to bring a multi-disciplinary response,” Beck said.
A news release from the Rock County Public Health Department on Tuesday said the clinic opened with a “soft launch” to target key currently eligible populations and ensure all operations run smoothly before ramping up.
The state’s Department of Health Services lists the following currently eligible populations:
Frontline health care personnel
Residents and staff in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities
Police and fire personnel, correctional staff
Adults ages 65 and over
On Tuesday, the county reported having a waiting list with about 500 people.
“Priority will be given to the individuals on the waitlist who will be notified by email or phone,” the news release states. “After exhausting the current waitlist, Rock County will perform targeted outreach to eligible individuals in collaboration with key partners and stakeholders in the county.”
After the soft launch, the clinic will be open to anyone who meets the current eligibility criteria and lives, works or studies in Wisconsin.
Kelsey Cordova, community health educator, said the site aims to reach those who may not have a connection with a health system or are uninsured.
“It’s important that this clinic reaches those who have fewer options,” Cordova said. “Those with established ties to a health system, doctor’s office or pharmacy are more likely to have access, but those who are not connected don’t have those options.”
To create consistency with the public, control expectation, and avoid confusion, the news release says a new registration link will be created but not be made public until the permanent solution is implemented and the soft launch complete.
The tentative date to open registration to the broader eligible public is Feb. 22.
In the meantime, encourage anyone who lives or works in Rock County and is currently eligible to be vaccinated is encouraged to fill out the registration on the Rock County Public Health Department’s website (www.co.rock.wi.us/publichealth).
Those who have registered online through the Rock County registration form will be connected to a provider and that provider may or may not be at the community-based vaccination clinic.
Pre-registration is required and will be available online and over the phone.
Proof of eligibility is required.
The vaccination clinic is located at Blackhawk Technical College; 6004 S. County G, Janesville. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
Given the limited supply of vaccine, the vaccination clinic will begin administering approximately 200 doses per day with the goal of increasing to approximately 1,000 per day as vaccine supply increases.
Health department officials said that allocation will not take away from doses being sent to other Rock County providers.
The state anticipates opening up vaccines to the following groups March 1:
• Educators and child care workers.
• Individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs.
• 911 operators.
• Public transit workers.
• Food supply chain workers including farmers, food production workers, grocery store employees and community food bank personnel.
• People living in congregate settings
• Non-frontline health care workers
County officials said they are waiting to hear more from the state regarding how to proceed with vaccinating people in the March 1 eligibility groups.
The DHS Community-Based Vaccine Clinic in Rock County is executed through a partnership with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare and with support by the WI National Guard, WI Emergency Management, and Rock County Public Health Department.
Ashley McCallum contributed to this report.