Tomah Health officials are touting the benefit of the COVID-19 vaccine, including the importance of a second dose.
Tomah Health employee health nurse Julie Anderson, MSN, RN, said hospital officials continue to work cooperatively with the Monroe County Health Dept., to vaccinate eligible recipients. “We are working closely with the Monroe County Health Department who is collecting information for people who are interested and qualify for the vaccine,” Anderson said. “We have given over 800 people their first COVID vaccine and have started giving second doses to Tomah Health staff.” She said 110 staff has completed the series including the second dose.
Tomah Health physician assistant Jerry Fushianes was one hospital staff who has received the second dose.
“We know that the first immunization does a good job at starting the process but the second one really activates the immune system to build good immunity and help prevent the contraction and spread,” Fushianes said.
While there are a number of myths circulating about the vaccine and a second dose, Fushianes said getting the vaccine and the second dose is critical to fighting the pandemic. “I feel that it is unfortunate that there’s so many misconceptions and untruths that are out there,” Fushianes said. “At this point we are finding our best way forward toward any sense of normality, is to have enough immunizations and enough people immunized that we can stop the spread and prevent this from becoming a worse pandemic than it is, so it is critically important.”
Anderson said hospital officials continue to see overwhelming interest from residents interested in getting the vaccine. “We know our community members are anxious to get vaccinated with the hopes of getting life back to normal. We’re hopeful that federal government and state officials can keep the vaccine supply moving along,” Anderson said. “We’re confident in our ability at Tomah Health and in our community healthcare partners like public health and local healthcare organizations to vaccinate as many interested people as quickly as we can.”
Anderson said currently, officials are allowed to vaccinate front line healthcare workers, people in long-term care facilities, fire and police personnel and correctional staff, and adults aged 65 and older.
The Department of Health Services (DHS) announced future groups that will be eligible tentatively beginning March 1, 2021. Groups are being prioritized due to an increased risk of exposure or vulnerability to COVID-19 and are consistent with the recommendations from the State Disaster Medical Assistance Committee (SDMAC). The groups in priority order include education and childcare, individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline health care essential personnel, and facility staff and residents in congregate living settings.
State officials said March 1 is a tentative date, dependent on vaccine supply from the federal government. If vaccine supply increases from the federal government, these populations may be eligible before March 1. However, if vaccine supply decreases, they may be eligible after March 1. Currently, Wisconsin is receiving about 70,000 vaccine doses from the federal government weekly.
The Monroe County Health Dept. continues to coordinate scheduling of the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible residents per Wisconsin Dept. of Health recommendations. Individuals who are interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine can fill out a COVID-19 interest form on Monroe County Health Dept.’s website at http://healthymonroecowi.org/vaccine.
Anyone who does not have access to a computer or internet can call Monroe County Health Department at 608-269-8666 and press three.
“There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to vaccinating our whole community as well as our state so collaboration with federal, state and local partners is crucial,” said Monroe County Health Dept. Health Officer and Director Tiffany Giesler, RN. “No one organization can do this by themselves, so having this partnership is the only way we are going to get everybody who needs the vaccine and wants the vaccine to be vaccinated. This partnership with Tomah Health is crucial for us to get the COVID vaccine out to everybody.”