COVID-19 Vaccinations Begin from Douglas County Health Dept.

SUPERIOR, Wis.– Vaccination efforts continue across the country, including in Wisconsin, where more than 123,000 people have been vaccinated so far. Hospitals and local health officials have been trying to distribute the limited amount of doses as best as they can, including in Douglas County.

Earlier this month, vaccines were given out to employees at Essentia Health’s hospital in Superior. Now after waiting for weeks, Douglas County was able to get their hands on the COVID-19 vaccine as they start to roll it out for other essential workers.

Douglas County Public Health on Wednesday gave out the COVID-19 vaccines after receiving its first 100 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the state on Monday. Doses are going to frontline workers who might not work at a healthcare facility.

“Healthcare workers, school nurses, rural EMS providers, dentist offices,” said Douglas County Health Officer Kathy Ronchi.

The county health department has been spending weeks gathering information on who is eligible right now to get the vaccine so that when a shipment came, they could get appointments lined up.

“We’ve had plans in place for a long time, so we were just waiting for that vaccine to come,” said Ronchi.

While county health officials are glad to finally bring the vaccine here at home, Ronchi says she understands why people in the county were anxious about the wait. But says smaller counties like Douglas go to the back of the line.

“As a health department, we really want to meet the needs of the people within our community and it was hard for people to understand why we didn’t have it yet,” said Ronchi. “We have a lower population than some other areas of the state. It’s very frustrating, I want my community to be first in line but it wasn’t and we had to work with that.”

One of the frontline workers getting vaccinated was Lori Kelleher, who’s a nurse at Superior High School. For her, the process was easy and painless, adding that it felt like getting a flu shot.

As someone who interacts with a variety of people every day, Kelleher says it’s comforting that she’ll be better protected against the virus.

“We’ve been seeing COVID and I’m happy that we have the vaccine now,” said Kelleher. “It means a lot. It just feels like we’re helping others but we also know that we’re not gonna be contagious hopefully to other people while we’re helping them.”

Douglas County Public Health will finish up their vaccines for the week tomorrow. The county is waiting to see how much, if any, amount of doses they will get for next week.

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be used within five days once it comes to Douglas County. Regulations need to be followed closely by local health officials otherwise they could lose their ability to receive vaccines.

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