01STOCK_CORONAVIRUS01

JANESVILLE

A group of health care workers has been left out of plans for COVID-19 vaccinations, but help is on the way, the Rock County Public Health Department announced Friday.

Until now, health care workers who are not affiliated with a health care system have had no formal way to get the vaccine, said health department spokeswoman Jessica Turner.

“So we will be communicating soon about how they can request a vaccine so we can continue to get all Phase 1A vaccinated,” Turner said.

The state’s Phase 1A of the vaccination rollout authorizes front-line health care workers as well as people in long-term care and those staffs to get the vaccine.

But Mary Daniels of Janesville said she called the health department, Mercyhealth and SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Janesville to get a vaccination for her husband, George, who is an unaffiliated registered nurse, without success.

The Danielses finally found a clinic for unaffiliated health care workers in Milwaukee, and George got his shot there Jan. 9, Mary said.

“We just gave up. And that’s fine. I’m just glad we got it somewhere,” Mary said.

George works with people on ventilators who need 24-hour care in their homes, Mary said, and those patients, some recovering from accidents or who have muscular dystrophy, face serious consequences, even death, if they caught COVID-19.

The first vaccinations reported in the county were Dec. 22 at Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville.

Asked if the unaffiliated workers had slipped through the cracks, Turner said, “This whole vaccination distribution process is very complex. It’s one of the details we’ve been trying to coordinate and work through.”

This is one reason the county formed a vaccination advisory committee in early January, Turner said, “to make sure we’re not missing any of those groups.”

Turner said her department did not know how many unaffiliated health care workers there are in the county.

Health care systems have been reaching out to some of those who had no way to get a vaccination, Turner said, “and we’ve been trying get those people vaccinated, but also want to put out an official way for those people to get those vaccinations so we’re doing this in an equitable manner and everybody who is eligible right now has the opportunity.”

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