La Crosse County childcare workers will have to wait a little longer for COVID-19 vaccinations

Teachers and childcare workers are eligible to get the vaccine; county prioritizing educators in phase 1B first

LA CROSSE COUNTY (WKBT) – La Crosse County teachers will have their chance to get the COVID vaccine at a county-run site March 5 & 6.

Childcare workers are also eligible in this vaccine phase, but the La Crosse County Health Department does not know when childcare workers will get the vaccine.

Right now, the department is prioritizing teachers first.

“Childcare workers are not being allowed to be vaccinated side-by-side with teachers,” Sprout Childcare owner Sherry Picha said. “And it’s very disappointing in this field.”

Picha says the everyday risks she and her collegues go through should be rewarded with a vaccine.

“Our center has been open from March (2020) all the way on until now,” Picha said. “The children in our care don’t wear masks because they’re under 5.”

Picha feels childcare workers are often an afterthought.

“We’re kind of used to being, our industry being not thought of as a professional industry,” Picha said.

Childcare workers are essential in Wisconsin, but they’re going to have a wait a little longer for the vaccine.

“We have no idea why we’re not being included,” Picha said.

Vaccine distribution in La Crosse County, and everywhere, is a waiting game.

“We have a good system,” county health educator Rachel King said. “But it’s taking a lot of moving parts.”

King says it was easier for the county to work with schools first because they have more resources to help out at vaccination sites.

“Not that daycare providers couldn’t do the exact same, but I think resources are just a little bit different.”

Teachers and childcare workers have other options where to get vaccinated, like pharmacies or healthcare systems.

“We do want to see our daycare providers vaccinated, and quickly as well,” King said.

But Picha says appointments are a problem right now.

“The advice given to us was to schedule ours at a Walgreens or a Walmart where you can’t get the appointments,” Picha said.

Picha understands the issues with vaccine supply, but is frustrated being left out right now.

“We’re not asking to be vaccinated today, just like every teacher is not,” Picha said. “But we should be in that pool.”

King says the county is still prioritizing getting the vaccine into people 65 and older first because they’re at the highest risk.

Then it will shift a bigger focus to other priority groups eligible for this phase.

Vaccine distribution plans vary by county.

About 65 percent of people aged 65 and above have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the DHS website.