The health and safety of our patients, staff and the community is our top priority. We will use this page to provide updates, information and resources regarding COVID-19.
COVID-19 Vaccine Information
How to get Vaccinated
Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix Counties are working closely with local hospitals and health systems to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine can get vaccinated. This will be a long process and we are asking for everyone’s patience. COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed to Wisconsin residents in a phased approach. It is important to remember that vaccine supply is limited and vaccinations are targeted to specific groups of people with a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. It will take time to reach all people within each priority population.
How to get Vaccinated
We are currently vaccinating our patients that are:
- Individuals age 65 +
- Healthcare workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities
If you are in one of the groups listed above, please fill out the vaccine wait list form above or call 715-684-1111.
Beginning March 1, new groups will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The newly eligible groups include the following in priority order:
- Education and child care staff
- Individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs
- Some public-facing essential workers
- Non-frontline essential health care personnel
- Facility staff and residents in congregate living settings.
While these groups are eligible on March 1, vaccine providers should prioritize previously eligible groups before newer groups. This means individuals in newly eligible groups should not expect to get the vaccine right away. It will take time to get to everyone in priority order.
If you do not have a healthcare provider or you would like to learn more about vaccine phases, visit your county website for more Information.
Note: Employees who can work from home, perform most tasks outdoors, or have limited engagement with the public are asked to delay vaccination until vaccine supply increases.
A Healthier Tomorrow? – With the Vaccine – YES!
A Healthier Tomorrow? – With the Vaccine – YES!
Imagine a Healthier Tomorrow
By Kathleen Findlay, MD, MPH – Family Practice and Integrative Medicine Physician
Our vision at Western Wisconsin Health is “imagine a healthier tomorrow.” These days, we all spend a lot of time imagining a healthier tomorrow–namely one without COVID-19. We imagine the day when we can go out without wearing a mask, when we can once again meet our friends for a night out, or when we can enjoy our kids’ sporting events with their grandparents. The damage inflicted from lockdowns is felt from our bank accounts to our spirits. We are ready for that healthier tomorrow, and the good news is that we can see that day sooner thanks to the groundbreaking development of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Through global cooperation of scientists, researchers, and medical experts, an extraordinarily effective and safe vaccine is now available. The speed of development was only possible due to sharing of research on a scale we have never seen before. Scientists had a head start thanks to prior research done on SARS and MERS. Additionally, the rigorous vaccine trial process was expedited by conducting multiple phases at the same time, instead of waiting to complete each phase before beginning the next. The 3rd phase of the trials where tens of thousands of people are enrolled to determine if they developed immunity and/or side effects is quicker during a pandemic, as many people have the virus at the same time. Finally, due to the urgency of the pandemic, vaccine production was underway before the trials were even completed. While the producers risked significant financial loss, we benefited by having vaccines available months sooner.
The rigorous vaccine research process has remained transparent and every phase of every trial continues to be scrutinized by a safety board and the FDA. Furthermore, in addition to the existing vaccine monitoring systems already in place, the CDC has added new systems such as the V-safe smartphone-based tool. Through this continued oversight and expert approval, two vaccines are now available to us in the US. These groundbreaking vaccines will help bring this pandemic to an end.
The COVID-19 vaccines that are in use in the US are mRNA vaccines. These vaccines carry the “recipe” for our cells to create a harmless piece of the spike protein that the SARS-CoV-2 virus makes. This enables our bodies to develop the immune response to fight off the virus when we are exposed to it. mRNA vaccines do not contain the virus, so they cannot give us the infection. Additionally, this RNA does not interact with or affect our DNA in any way. These vaccines have a limited number of ingredients, and so far, the only contraindication to receiving the vaccines is prior severe allergic reaction to any of these components. Thus, these vaccines are safe for the vast majority of us.
Getting the vaccine will keep you and your family safe. At 95% efficacy, the vaccine is extraordinarily effective at protecting you from the virus and is your best tool to keep your family healthy. The vaccine currently available requires 2 doses to develop that level of immunity—the first dose prepares your body and the second dose given 3-4 weeks later is what helps you create the immune response to prevent illness. As we await this developing protection throughout our homes and communities, we will still need to use the preventive tools we have had in place for the past year: masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting. The sooner people are fully protected against COVID-19, the faster we will slow the virus. Then we will be able to move forward and get back to normal as soon as possible.
The vaccine is being distributed in a phased approach, with frontline workers and those most at risk getting the first doses. In fact, many of Wisconsin’s health care providers and long-term care residents have already or are about to receive their second dose. As we move into the next phases, more and more people will have the opportunity to help prevent more illnesses and deaths, eliminate and eradicate COVID-19, and end the damage to the economy.
It is understandable to be skeptical about these vaccines. Many people are concerned about side effects. As with any vaccine, we anticipate side effects. These mild side effects signal that your body is building the protection to the virus, and if you have them should last no more than a few days. There is less than 0.5% chance of severe side effects. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at Western Wisconsin Health. One of our clinicians will be happy to talk with you. Our social media sites, along with all the county websites, will continue to provide up to date information on vaccine availability.
A healthier tomorrow is in sight. You can help us get there by getting your COVID-19 vaccine!
Press Release from Local Counties 1-25-2021
Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix Counties Partner with Local Healthcare Providers to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines
New Richmond, WI: Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix Counties are working closely with local hospitals and health systems to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine can get vaccinated. Information around the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has been evolving depending on vaccine supplies and guidance from the state of Wisconsin. The goal of this partnership is to provide clear and consistent information throughout this three-county area about COVID-19 vaccines and where and how to get them.
“We are meeting weekly with the leadership of our healthcare entities to manage our processes. This partnership is essential in providing consistency in the rollout of vaccines. We are working in an imperfect system but working together will help us provide clear information to so many in our communities that are eager to take the next step in fighting this virus.”
– Kelli Engen – St. Croix County Public Health Officer
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recently announced that adults over the age of 65 will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine beginning January 25. Prioritization of vaccinations within phases may vary between healthcare providers.
“We are thrilled by the recent expansion of eligibility to our older populations. However, it is important that we all understand that it will take many weeks to provide a vaccine to everyone in this age group who wants one.”
– AZ Snyder – Pierce County Public Health Officer
“With the expansion of vaccines to our most vulnerable populations, we have increased our communication with partners to ensure the most efficient distribution of available vaccine in our counties. The Polk County Health Department has also partnered with Burnett County for vaccine distribution.”
-Tonya Eichelt- Polk County Interim Health Officer
How to get Vaccinated
- Review the information about vaccine phases available on your county’s website to determine what priority group or phase you are in.
- If you have a healthcare provider, visit their website and follow the instructions to get a vaccination.
- If you do not have a healthcare provider, visit your county’s website and follow the instructions to get a vaccination.
- You will be notified by your healthcare provider or county Public Health Department when a vaccine is available for you.
- Review the next steps you should take after getting a vaccine from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.
About COVID-19 Vaccines
Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix County Public Health would like people to know that the U.S. vaccine safety process assures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Clinical trials are conducted with thousands of participants for each approved vaccine and are continuously monitored for safety.
Vaccines will be available to everyone who wants one and will take place over the course of three phases. This will be a long process and we are asking for everyone’s patience. People at the highest risk of getting COVID-19 will receive a vaccine first.
- Phase 1:
- Phase 1A: Healthcare workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities
- Phase 1B: Essential workers and individuals 65 years and older
- Phase 1C: Individuals with underlying health conditions
- Phase 2: Remainder of Phase 1 and critical and general populations
- Phase 3: Remainder of Phases 1 and 2 and critical and general populations
Where can I find more information?
You can find information about where, when, and how you can get vaccinated on your healthcare provider’s website or your county’s website. If you are unable to access these websites, you can call your healthcare provider or county and they will assist you.
Regional Healthcare Provider Websites:
- Allina Health River Falls Clinic
- Fairview (Vibrant Health)
- Hudson Physicians
- Mayo Health Clinic System
- Osceola Medical Center
- St. Croix Regional Medical Center
- Western Wisconsin Health
Regional County Websites:
- Pierce County: Brittany Mora – Public Information Officer
- Polk County: Abigail Heinecke – Public Information Officer
- St. Croix County: Adam Kastonek – Public Information Officer