COVID-19 vaccinations began for residents and staff at Wisconsin nursing homes on Monday.
As part of a public-private partnership, CVS and Walgreens are managing Moderna's vaccine and providing free on-site clinics for eligible long-term care facilities.
It was a day residents and employees at Markesan Resident Home had been waiting for.
"Beautiful. I never knew he did it," said Bonnie Ratliff when asked how her first dose went.
Ratliff has diabetes and said she got the vaccine because she figured it would be a way to finally get out. She added that she felt fine after getting the shot.
"Go ahead and get it. If it keeps one person from getting it, you’ve done your thing," said Ratliff.
Amy Newton, Infection Preventionist Nurse and interim Director of Nursing at Markesan Resident Home said they have worked to educate residents and families about the vaccine and get consent.
Newton said on Monday they gave shots to 21 residents and 54 staff members out of 29 residents and 107 staff members.
She expects as time goes on, more staff members will opt to get the vaccine. The second dose is due in 28 days.
At Markesan Resident Home, CVS manages the vaccines and coordinates the clinic.
"Really happy with how everyone everything went so smoothly. I’m glad everybody can maybe take a little sigh of relief once this is all up and running for all the rest of the nursing homes, but we are super fortunate to be one of the first," said Newton.
"The vaccine is hope," said John Sauer, President and CEO of LeadingAge Wisconsin.
LeadingAge Wisconsin is a statewide association of long-term care providers. Sauer said getting vaccines to nursing homes is worth celebrating but cautioned it is not time for anyone to let up on taking precautions such as wearing face masks and social distancing just yet.
"We are a ways away from defeating this virus, but it’s within our grasp. We just have to have some level of patience even though our patience is beyond tested right now," said Sauer.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported nine nursing homes starting vaccinations on Monday. That number is expected to grow to 42 by the end of Thursday.
They also expect the pharmacy distribution program for long-term care sites will take about two months to complete.