Explaining how people in Phase 1B of COVID vaccinations can safely and effectively get their shot

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A Wisconsin vaccine advisory subcommittee voted to approve a plan for the next phase of COVID vaccinations Wednesday morning.

The current plan for the next phase of COVID-19 vaccination covers 1.6 million people in Wisconsin.

“We’re actually continuing to wait for the state to provide us further direction because we’ve seen so many shifts in who’s going to qualify,” Gundersen Health System nursing director of clinical operations Sarah Rossman said.

Right now, that list includes all people age 65 and older, 911 dispatchers, teachers and even grocery workers.

Grocery workers weren’t even on the list until Wednesday.

“I anticipate we’ll continue to see them making changes at the last minute,” Rossman said.

So how do we get all of these people vaccinated?

“I think for the patients, it’s easy once they’re in the queue,” Rossman said.

If you want to get vaccinated, local healthcare systems recommend you sign up through their online patient portals ASAP. Your healthcare provider will message you through that account when you’re name is called.

Those who don’t have Internet will receive a letter in the mail.

“We actually discourage them from calling our primary care clinics, as we will be reaching out to them as soon as we have a dose for them,” Mayo Clinic Health System nurse administrator Benjamin Anderson said.

If you’re a new patient or don’t have a regular provider, the La Crosse County Health Department has an online form on its website. But not everyone needs to fill it out.

“If they receive any sort of direct communication from their healthcare provider, then they definitely don’t need to,” public information officer Maggie Smith said.

Once you’re ready to get the vaccine, your doctor will inform you about it.

You will then get vaccinated, wait 15 minutes for any side effects and sign up for your next appointment.

“We haven’t had any severe reactions within the health system at this time,” Rossman said. “So people are doing quite well.”

Health experts say this process is gradual.

“Our current vaccination center can do at least 500 doses a day,” Anderson said. “We think we can do close to 1,000 once we’re fully operational.”

But until that time comes, patience is the key.

“We’re anxious to get the vaccine into arms, just as people are anxious to receive it,” Smith said. “But it takes time.”

Right now, Gundersen is vaccinating on the first floor at its La Crosse location, and on the fourth floor at the Onalaska location.

Mayo’s vaccination site in La Crosse is in the Professional Arts Building adjacent to Ferry Street.

Plans for phase 1B are now going to the state’s Disaster Medical Advisory Committee for final approval.