RACINE COUNTY – Planning has started for how the COVID-19 vaccine may eventually be distributed in Racine County, local officials reported Friday. However, details are few and residents are urged to be patient and continue to follow public health guidelines.
The Central Racine County and City of Racine Public Health Departments, along with the Racine County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), are preparing for COVID-19 vaccinations in coordination with other local partners. However, as the agencies noted in a joint news release, the vaccination planning process starts at the federal level, moves to the state level, and then information is shared with local partners for planning and implementation.
In addition, the vaccine is expected to be scarce at first and it is not known how many vaccines Racine County will initially receive or which healthcare providers will receive the vaccine during the early rollout. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) oversees and determines vaccine allocations based on guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Wisconsin State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC).
The local public health departments will likely have the same role with the COVID-19 vaccine as they have with other vaccines.
“Local public health departments have historically provided a safety net for provision of vaccines for those unable to be vaccinated through their primary care provider or local pharmacy,” Margaret Gesner, Health Officer for Central Racine County Health Department, said in a news release. “We expect to fill the same role for the COVID-19 vaccination campaign as well as providing assurance and education. Vaccines will help tremendously in the effort to prevent disease and death from COVID-19.”
The local health departments are collaborating to provide COVID-19 vaccination, added Dottie-Kay Bowersox, Public Health Administrator for City of Racine Public Health Department. “The situation remains very fluid and as information becomes available, we are working on logistics such as education, storage, handling, administration, medical orders, and training. All logistics need to be in place in order to be able to even start vaccine provision for some priority populations,” she said.
Preliminary State and Federal Plans Stated
The preliminary state and federal distribution plans for the COVID-19 vaccination look like this:
- Vaccination distribution will occur in phases, and Phase 1A is the current planning focus. Those proposed for Phase 1A include Health Care Personnel (HCP) and Long-Term Care Facility residents. This means initial vaccine allotments will not be available to the general public during Phase 1A.
- Those primarily responsible for vaccinating in Phase 1A include hospitals and healthcare providers (for their health care workers and others identified in Phase 1A) as well as pharmacies (for long-term care facility providers and residents). In addition, DHS has issued a Request for Services for vaccination clinics.
- The Racine County health departments will help fill gaps for Phase 1A as resources allow, since each agency employs only a handful of nurses. The Racine County health departments do not expect to receive any vaccine or vaccinate until January 2021 at the earliest, and the exact timing and parameters for distribution are not yet known.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health experts have reported that the earliest timeline for the general public to receive the vaccine is in the second or third quarter of 2021.
What You Can Do
Until the COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available for the public, officials urge resident to:
- Wear a face-covering in public.
- Maintain physical distance.
- Avoid gatherings
- Stay home if sick or quarantined.