Community-Based Vaccine Clinic In Rock County Aims To Reach People Without Regular Health Care Access

Wisconsin Opening First Community-Based Vaccine Clinic With AMI Next Week

Gov. Evers speaks at a lectern while wearing a white face mask.
Gov. Tony Evers speaks to reporters about the future community-based coronavirus vaccination clinic Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Wisconsin is opening its first community-based coronavirus vaccination clinic aimed at reaching people who don’t have access to regular health care. It’s set to start operating at Blackhawk Technical College in Rock County on Tuesday.

The state Department of Health Services is partnering with Virginia-based AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, which will run the clinic. DHS is hoping to work with AMI on six to 10 additional community vaccination clinics across the state as more vaccine becomes available.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tony Evers toured Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, praising the new initiative as a “labor of love.” But Evers said the clinic will start slow, much like many of the 1,500 existing vaccine sites across the state.

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“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.”

Rick Wietersen, environmental health director for Rock County, said there are shots ready when the Blackhawk clinic opens next week.

“The plan is to start out slow, with about 200 doses per day for five days, and then reassess on a weekly basis,” Wietersen said.

A man stands as he answers questions from reporters whose arms reach out toward him with microphones.
Rick Wietersen, environmental health director for Rock County, speaks to reporters after the press conference Wednesday Feb. 10, 2021, at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

If Wisconsin’s vaccine allocations increase, the clinic’s goal is to provide up to 1,000 vaccinations per day, according to DHS.

The clinic will operate by appointment only, with reservations made through the Rock County Health Department.

Anyone who is eligible for a vaccine under the state’s guidelines can make an appointment, but the clinic is targeting people who don’t have health insurance or a primary care physician, said Dan Beck, senior operations manager with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare.

Beck said all employees will be hired from Wisconsin and AMI is working with the Marquette University College of Nursing, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Concordia University pharmacy schools, and Medical College of Wisconsin to grow their capacity at Blackhawk and future clinics.

Editor’s note: Angela Major contributed to this report.