Health department, community leaders urge vaccinations after seeing local demand decrease

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 10:13 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Community leaders joined the Eau Claire City-County Health Department for its weekly briefing on Thursday to emphasize the importance of getting residents vaccinated.

Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese says vaccine supply is available and health officials are ready to administer more doses, but it has been a slow week for clinics across the state including at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena. Her message to the community on Thursday- vaccine hesitancy could impact the area’s chances to resume normal activities.

“We need your help. The choice is up to all of us,” Giese says. “The more spread we have, the more likely we will have variant strain existing here and a higher chance that with increased variant strains, we won’t have a vaccine that works effectively and we can’t afford for that to happen.”

The health department’s goal is to vaccinate 80% of Eau Claire County’s population by July 1 however current rates would only put the county at about 60% by then.

“If we want to enjoy summer, if we want to get back to somewhat of what life was like 15 months ago, this is what we need to do,” said Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dave Minor. “We cannot go backwards and have businesses shut down again because there is not enough money in D.C. to keep writing blank checks.”

Country Jam USA General Manager Kathy Wright shared the importance of vaccines to hold events like the popular summer music festival.

“We hope now that it is your turn, you will do your part. Be a fan and please take the shot,” Wright said.

For Altoona City Administrator Mike Golat, the vaccine offers a chance to bring back a sense of community by resuming music in the park, dancing, sports and recreation.

“Without people getting their vaccines, it is not assured that we will be able to continue to do those things,” he said.

About 5,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered at Zorn Arena so far and the health department says there are many more to give, they just need arms.

Giese says the health department is now focusing its efforts on educating people who are hesitant about the vaccine, focusing on vulnerable communities and making appointments as accessible as possible.

To sign up for a vaccine appointment online click here or call 1-844-684-1064. People 16 and older who live, work or study in Wisconsin can sign up for a free vaccine. ID is not needed. People ages 16 and 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian or bring a signed permission slip.

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