JANESVILLE — Gov. Tony Evers made a stop in Rock County Wednesday to announce the location of Wisconsin’s first community-based COVID-19 vaccination clinic, which will be at Blackhawk Technical College’s Central Campus between Beloit and Janesville.
The clinic is set to open next week to reach underserved residents and those who do not have health insurance, Evers said. The state has plans to open up to 10 other community-based clinics in the state.
Evers toured the state’s first community vaccination clinic, set to open on Feb. 16, at Blackhawk Technical College’s Central Campus, with officials from the Rock County Public Health Department and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare— the company tasked with operating the site and distributing vaccines.
“The fact is that in Rock County, Walworth County and Green County there are lots of folks who aren’t part of a health system or don’t have health insurance,” Evers said. “We want to make sure that this site is a home for these people.”
It is estimated that 9% of Rock County residents are uninsured, according to a 2017 health needs assessment by the Rock County Public Health Department, the most recent data available.
America’s Health Rankings by the United Health Foundation shows that in 2019, 5.7% of all Wisconsin residents do not have health coverage compared to the national average of 9.2% without health benefits.
AMI Expeditionary Healthcare Senior Operations Manager Dan Beck said Blackhawk Technical College’s previous experience with mobile testing and vaccination events were a “concept that fits well” in opening the vaccine clinic.
“This entire project is a partnership and the only way to meet those challenges is to bring a multi-disciplinary response,” Beck said.
The vaccine clinic will be eligible to Wisconsin residents who fit under current eligible criteria for vaccination, with the clinic anticipating 200 vaccinations per-day, according to Rock County Public Health Department Environmental Health Director Rick Wietersen.
“The plan is to start slow, with about 200 doses per day for five days and then reassess on a weekly basis,” Wietersen said.
The health department will announce an online registration form in the coming days to allow residents to sign up to be vaccinated, coupled with an outreach plan to reach underserved residents. The clinic will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m.—7 p.m. by-appointment only.
The supply of the vaccine for the clinic comes from the state’s overall allocation from the federal government, and would start slow just like many of the 1,500 vaccinators currently underway in Wisconsin, Evers said.
“The ability to have supply is critical,” Evers said. “There are lots of people in the state to vaccinate, and we need the supply. If doses stay flat, that’s a problem. We’re opening this great facility, and (doses) come from the state allocation.”.
AMI has been contracted by the state to open six to 10 additional community-based vaccine clinics across Wisconsin.
A spokesperson for Blackhawk Technical College said the college’s financial contribution was “minimal,” but did not specify a dollar amount.
The overall cost of operating the clinic was not immediately available as of Wednesday afternoon.
At Beloit Health System, 6,129 vaccine doses have been administered since Dec. 22. In Janesville, Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center has administered over 12,000 vaccines since Dec. 22 and SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital has administered 1,500 doses of vaccine, according to officials from the three health care organizations.