Patience is key
Tips for scheduling covid vaccinations
By Portage County Health and Human Services
The light at the end of the long tunnel that has been the COVID-19 pandemic was finally able to be seen when the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered. As new groups have become eligible to receive the vaccine, many are asking where and when they can receive theirs.
While there are online registration systems available, it can take some time, depending on provider, for an individual to be contacted to make an appointment. This is dependent on how many doses are received of the COVID-19 vaccine by vaccinators.
Each week, vaccinators put in a dose request and for the past two weeks, most vaccinators have not received their full supply that has been requested. Vaccine is allocated by the federal government to the state (DHS) on a weekly basis. DHS then administers a survey for vaccine requests to all approved vaccinators throughout the state weekly.
There are currently over 1,500 approved vaccinators in Wisconsin, for which there are only 70,000 doses of vaccine allocations available. Requests for vaccine from approved vaccinators have been greater than the supply of vaccine available to the state resulting in limited or partial allocations of vaccine. Requests for initial doses have been two to three times greater than the actual supply of vaccine available for approved vaccinators resulting in the state only able to fulfill 25-27 percent of vaccine allocations.
Vaccine allocation to tribal health departments, federal health care centers, and to vaccinators who serve long-term care and community-based residential facility populations are prioritized.
While Portage County Division of Public Health has been fortunate to receive some allocation of vaccine, allocations for initial doses have been 27-46 percent of overall doses requested. Currently, limitations of initial doses of vaccine availability has not impacted the availability of second doses in completing the series for vaccination.
Division of Public Health has administered all vaccine as allocated; however, it has made planning clinics difficult. To date, 605 doses of vaccine have been administered over the last four weeks by public health with assistance from local EMS and first responder partners. At the county level, there have been 6,443 total doses administered.
Approved vaccinators are not given a choice of the type of vaccine that is received for administration within their jurisdiction. Currently there are only two manufacturers of vaccine, Pfizer and Moderna.
Each vaccine requires two doses to complete the series, with administration of doses three to four weeks apart respectfully.
Storage and handling of the vaccine is another barrier for vaccine administration. The Pfizer vaccine, which is what Portage County Division of Public Health has been receiving, must be stored between -80°C and -60°C and must be used within a five-day window after being removed from deep freeze storage.
While we understand the frustration this rollout has caused for countless community members, Division of Public Health reminds everyone that patience is key during this time. As vaccine supply increases and additional vaccine manufacturers get Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), more people will be able to get vaccinated. At this time, it’s important to not register for vaccination through multiple vaccinators, as this puts a strain on vaccine demand and inflates each vaccinator’s weekly request. This strain can cause vaccinators to not receive their full allotment.
If you need assistance getting registered online, community members can call the Portage County ADRC for assistance at 715-346-1401 or toll-free at 1-866-920-2525. Vaccination information can also be found on the COVID-19 dashboard at this link: https://coronavirus-response-portage-county-portagecowi.hub.arcgis.com/pages/covid-19-vaccination.