More than 1,000 Wisconsinites receive COVID-19 vaccine; healthcare workers share experience

Posted at 6:30 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 12:00:34-05

MILWAUKEE — COVID-19 vaccines have continued to roll out across Wisconsin with more than 1,000 people reportedly vaccinated.

Some healthcare workers in the Milwaukee area said they chose to get the vaccine for themselves and to empower others.

"If we want to get back to some type of normal life it’s something I feel everyone needs to do," said Gwen Lea, nurse coordinator for the sickle cell program at Children's Wisconsin.

Gwen was among the first at Children's Wisconsin to get a vaccine on Thursday.

As a nurse coordinator working with an immuno-compromised group, she wanted to set an example for the kids and families she serves, even if the vaccine isn't available to children. Gwen also wanted to empower other African Americans who may be skeptical of the vaccine.

"I just feel like it’s something that I had to do. I have family members who are at risk for being African-American, family members are at risk for getting sick due to COVID so I just feel like I don’t want them to get sick," said Gwen.

Ascension Wisconsin started vaccines for some on Wednesday to prepare for their first clinic.

"Getting the vaccine is one thing that each of us can do in order to change the world," said Lori George, an ICU nurse with Ascension Wisconsin.

"At first is oh is it really coming? I was super excited. It's almost emotional to a point where it feels like the year's been getting worse and worse with COVID cases on the rise. This was definitely a moment of excitement," said Nisreen Atta, an ER nurse at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center.

Advocate Aurora started vaccinations on Tuesday.

"I feel great. No side effects. A little bit of soreness at the vaccine site which is normal for any vaccine. To be honest, I thought the flu shot was worse so it’s been good so far," said Nisreen.

After a grueling year, Gwen and Nisreen said they plan to encourage their own family and friends to get a vaccine when their turn comes.

"We still have to continue to wear masks and social distance. I just know that in my mind this is the first step in this long journey that we have to take," said Gwen.

"It gives me hope as to what’s yet to come," said Nisreen.

Froedtert said they expect their first shipment of vaccine Thursday.

With 400,000 health care workers in Wisconsin, this is a major effort that will take time and more vaccines.

Pending Emergency Use Authorization Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine may be available to long-term care facilities starting December 28.

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Coronavirus in Wisconsin

More data on Wisconsin's vaccination progress here.

Find a vaccination site here.

Check out county-by-county coronavirus case numbers here.

More information: COVID-19 on the Wisconsin DHS website

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