MILWAUKEE — Some local healthcare providers and organizations have already received approval from the state to administer the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.
Progressive Community Health Centers are among them. Leaders at the Lisbon Avenue location on Milwaukee’s northwest side say their “stay in your car” flu shots and coronavirus testing have been practice for what is to be at the next massive public health undertaking.
“This has really given us a crash course,” said Sarah Francois, Director of Fund Development and Marketing for Progressive Community Health Centers. “It took us a while to get everything going, and moving in a way that was accessible to everybody. We anticipate that when we do get the COVID-19 vaccine, we’ll be able to administer it in a very similar way, probably via appointments and some type of drive-up fashion, to maintain social distancing.”
According to Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, more than 1,100 organizations requested applications to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. 485 of them actually submitted the forms to DHS. So far, the state has verified 202 organizations to administer the vaccine.
In addition to Progressive Community Health Centers, we know Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, Advocate Aurora, and Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers have been approved to administer the vaccine in our area.
But none of these organizations know exactly when the vaccine will arrive. The absolute earliest would be on, or around, December 15th.
“Basically as soon as we know we have the vaccine, we’re going to make sure everyone else knows it too,” Francois said. “The mission of Progressive Community Health Centers is to serve everyone who walks through the doors, regardless if they have insurance. We’re going to do that with the COVID-19 vaccine too.”
Other unknowns include how many doses of the vaccine they’ll get, and which brands.
Both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s require two doses separated by three and four weeks, respectively. The Moderna vaccine can be stored at room temperature, while Pfizer’s has to be kept frozen.
“We are prepared to handle both vaccines once they come to us, with adequate storage equipment we have on-site right now,” Francois said.
Because the vaccine might initially come in limited numbers, they’ll have to follow state guidelines on who gets it first. After frontline health care workers and at-risk populations, the general public might not have access to it until the spring of 2021.
Health organizations are in constant communication about the vaccine and establishing a workflow to get it administered quickly to as many people as possible.
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