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Health experts address Wisconsin's COVID-19 vaccination rate

The transition to a 'slow and steady' pace
Posted at 1:59 PM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 18:16:36-04

GREEN BAY (NBC26) — "Slow and steady" may win the race in the COVID-19 vaccine effort.

After the mass vaccination site at Lambeau Field closed on June 30, Sherry LaFond, team leader of primary care operations at Bellin Health, said there are currently 12 family practice clinics within the health system that now offer the COVID-19 vaccine. Two Fastcare locations in Green Bay also have vaccines available for walk-ins seven days a week.

LaFond said Bellin Health is fully stocked with coronavirus vaccines, but has noticed a decrease in demand.

“We are still vaccinating every day, but just as it happened at Lambeau, we went from 1,000 a day, down to 500, down to a couple hundred," LaFond said. "It has waned, but I think it’s as important to take care of that patient who today is ready as anyone else.”

The United States missed the White House's goal of vaccinating 70 percent of Americans age 18 and up with at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by July 4. As of Monday, CDC data shows 67 percent of that group received at least one dose of vaccine.

Wisconsin is behind the nation's vaccination rate. The latest data from the Department of Health Services shows 61.5 percent of residents 18 and up received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 50 percent have completed the series.

"We have a little more work to do, especially for those from 12 to 45," said Dr. Ashok Rai, Prevea Health president & CEO. "That's an area we can do a lot of improvement."

After closing its mass vaccination site at UW Green Bay, Prevea Health continues working with schools and businesses to bring pop-up vaccination clinics to communities, including Bay Port High School. Many of the health system's clinics also offer the vaccine, which Rai said is in full supply.

Prevea Health is also partnering with McDonald's to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the Green Bay community this week.

"The mass sites were there to get our most vulnerable vaccinated as quickly as possible while we had as much vaccine as we did," Rai said. "So it did its job. But at that point, we were bringing the arm to the needle. Now it's really time to bring the needle to the arm."

A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows among those currently not vaccinated, nearly 30 percent said they're "definitely not going to" or "are unlikely" to get vaccinated in the future. Almost 10 percent of respondents said they definitely or probably will get vaccinated.

LaFond said they've seen a similar sentiment in Northeast Wisconsin.

“As we’ve gone out to different groups, we’re seeing some of that," LaFond said. "People feel very passionate at times about where they are, and that’s their opinion and that’s where they’re at. What we’re always hopeful is that we’re doing a good job at educating people about their options.”

As many healthcare systems move away from mass vaccination sites, LaFond said we'll see a more "slow and steady" pace when it comes to getting the rest of the population vaccinated.

“Listening is always a really good way to understand where people are at, and then bringing forth the information to assist them to make really good decisions about their long-term health," LaFond said.

Bellin Health is working to get all 28 of its primary care clinics approved to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July.