NEW GLARUS, Wis. — The first shots of the COVID-19 vaccine were given at some of Wisconsin’s senior care facilities on Monday by employees of Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy.
The New Glarus Home, an assisted living facility in New Glarus, Wisconsin, was one of the first of those facilities to have a clinic for its staff and residents.
“Words can’t express the relief, the excitement, the happiness that all of us feel,” said Carla Durst, RN, the Infection Prevention Specialist at New Glarus Home.
Getting the vaccine to those who live and work in senior care facilities is one of the biggest priorities.
“The number one population that is most susceptible to the virus are older adults,” said John Sauer, President of Leading Age Wisconsin.
It hasn’t been easy, but Durst said New Glarus Home hasn’t had any staff-to-staff or staff-to-resident transmission.
“Our staff have worked incredibly hard and sacrificed time and again to make that a reality,” Durst said.
That hasn’t been the case across the state. Nearly one in four COVID-19 deaths in Wisconsin have come from long-term care facilities.
“We need to do what we can to push vaccinations for our residents and staff because it is the people that we care for who are must vulnerable to the virus,” Sauer said.
Things went well for the first vaccinations at New Glarus Home.
“We have 150 doses on hand. 70 of our 74 residents received vaccines, and about that many, a few more staff were able to get the vaccine,” Durst said.
With 28 days needed between doses of the Moderna vaccine, employees with CVS and Walgreens will be making three visits to all of the assisted living facilities across Wisconsin to give the shots.
Dave Fulcher, the CEO of Milwaukee Catholic Home says he expects the first vaccines to be given there on January 10.
“We’ll schedule our residents first and then have designated times for employees to come and get the vaccine that day,” Fulcher said.
Even though the vaccines are starting to be given, Fulcher said everyone needs to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.
“[If] we want families to come visit their loved ones, we all need to continue to be safe,” Fulcher said.