WAUSAU, Wisc. (WJMN) – Asipirus Health Care leaders provided an update Friday on their vaccine plan for employees and the community.
“This is not going to be an instant solution to the COVID challenge. It is going to be another weapon in our fight against COVID,” said Jesse Tischer, SVP & President of Regional Markets.
Tischer added the importance of continuing to use all tools available to fight the spread of COVID-19. “Continue to socially distance when able, wash your hands, wear your masks. The vaccine, like I said is going to be one of those weapons we use in this fight, those other aspects are also tools that we will use.”
He says they have been planning for this moment for months and credits Susan Schneider, MD –Aspirus System Senior Physician Executive – Primary Care, with helping with those preparations.
“We anticipate we’ll be able to start that vaccine treatment early next week,” Dr. Schneider says they could receive first doses of the Pfizer vaccine as early as Tuesday.
Aspirus has been planning distribution, transportation, and storage to maintain the integrity of the vaccine, as well as how to quickly and efficiently distribute the vaccine once they receive it. Aspirus is headquartered in Wausau, Wisconsin, but has locations in the Western U.P.
Aspirus expects the Moderna vaccine to be released in the next week or two.
“We do know that is a two-part vaccine. You’re not completely protected until you receive the second dose, which is given at least 21 days later. The Moderna is at least 28 days later. Someone who starts their series must complete it with the same vaccine. So we will be tracking very closely employees as well as patients on which vaccine they got.
Aspirus will be following CDC guidelines for vaccine distribution. They weren’t able to say the exact number of vaccines they will receive, but amounts will be based on what each state is allocated.
“At this point, since we know there will be a very limited amount of vaccine, they are targeting those really high risk groups. The first groups that will be included in the vaccine include those residents who are in long-term care facilities as well as healthcare workers on the front lines. So those who are taking care of COVID patients on a daily basis will be given the vaccine first. Then as it becomes more available, we’ll roll it out to the remainder of our healthcare workers and then on to higher, high-risk groups,” said Dr. Schneider.
Dr. Schneider believes the Moderna vaccine will be easier to distribute to more rural areas because it does not have to be kept at ultra-cold temperatures.