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COVID-19 vaccine supply surpasses local demand

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 8:47 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - When the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given out in mid-December, health officials were uncertain if there would be enough supply to meet demand.

Four months later the Eau Claire City-County Health Department says there is plenty of vaccine supply, but not enough arms to put it in.

The clinic at Zorn Arena on the UW-Eau Claire campus has the capacity to administer 700 shots a day, however during the last week, the clinic is averaging 590 shots per day.

“We’re short of our goal,” says Health Department Director Lieske Giese. “We really need to be in a space where people can really feel more confident about herd immunity which is our goal. We need more people vaccinated.”

After dealing with the issue of not having enough vaccine supply earlier in the year, Giese says now there aren’t enough arms.

“This week we are starting to see lower numbers so our goal is to really get the word out that it’s easy and simple to get vaccinated at Zorn,” she says.

More supply than people is a trend Prevea Health President and CEO Ashok Rai is also seeing.

“I don’t think that everyone who wants a shot has gotten one yet because we still have people calling and wanting that, we just have to make it a lot easier for people going forward,” he says.

Which means changing strategies now that the vaccine is more readily available.

“Going to Hmong Mutual Assistance Association and doing an on-site clinic there,” Giese says. “Going to some of our larger employers and doing on-site vaccination clinics at those sites and going out to the rural areas and doing vaccine clinics.”

“We’re going to start taking the vaccine that we have into different settings and making sure people have access to it and taking it more into rural settings,” Rai says.

Dr. Rai says the state has been a leader in vaccinating people.

“To have 80% plus of our 65 and olders vaccinated in certain counties, that’s amazing.”

But we are only half way through the race to vaccinate, and he says people not getting vaccinated could have serious ramifications.

“With more and more virus coming into the environment, we look at areas around us that are having surges, it’s a race to prevent the surge,” he says. “Once the surge is here, it’s too late, the vaccines won’t help that surge and that’s when our hospitals get overwhelmed and unfortunately people lose their lives.”

When it comes to incentivizing people to get vaccinated, Giese is taking a different approach.

“I think a really strong message for this community is, let’s get our population vaccinated by the start of summer and have a different summer.”

Hoping more and more people in the community will want to do their part to help us all get back to a more normal life.

When it comes to summer, Giese says if you were to get the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine by next Saturday, you would be fully vaccinated by the first weekend in June.

She also says it’s easy to set up an appointment online for the Zorn Arena clinic.

To make an appointment, click here.

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