SSM Health expanded its Baraboo vaccination clinic Wednesday and is now administering the COVID-19 vaccine to people as young as 65 after focusing on those 75 and older for the last week and a half.
The state started allowing anyone 65 and older to receive the vaccine last week, but SSM Health decided to prioritize older patients “as they are at a higher risk for serious complications and hospitalization due to COVID-19” and because of the large number eligible people, according to a news release from the health care system.
Roughly 700,000 Wisconsin residents are 65 and older, according to the state Department of Health Services. The state currently receives about 70,000 doses of the vaccine each week from the federal government.
Heather Sloan, spokesperson for SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo, said in an email that vaccination efforts are going well so far. As of Thursday, the Baraboo clinic has administered more than 1,800 doses since it started vaccinating employees on Dec. 29, she said.
“We are asking everyone to continue being patient,” Sloan said. “We know many people are excited to get the vaccine, but right now we are limited by supplies of the COVID-19 vaccines.”
As of Tuesday, almost 6,000 Sauk County residents have received their first vaccine dose, according to the county’s COVID-19 data hub. Of them, almost 1,300 have received both doses.
SSM Health’s current eligible patients will get instructions on how to schedule their vaccination through MyChart, the mail or email, the release said. If they don’t have access to MyChart, they can call the SSM Health Dean Medical Group hotline at 608-250-1222 to schedule their vaccination.
People who aren’t currently eligible for the vaccine under the state’s rollout plan can fill out a vaccine interest form online through SSM Health to be notified when they become eligible, Sloan said. The form is available at https://webforms.ssmhealth.com/covidvaccine?hgcrm_agency=client&hgcrm_channel=mass_media&hgcrm_campaignid=2177&hgcrm_tacticid=4800&hgcrm_trackingsetid=7190&hgcrm_source=magazine&_ga=2.194350573.1360877770.1612188442-1525100682.1604439018.
In last week’s COVID-19 update video, Sauk County Health officials said anyone without a regular health care provider can become a new patient at one of the county’s three health care systems, all of which are accepting new patients, to get the vaccine or go through another vaccination site, like a pharmacy or EMS station. The vaccine is free for anyone, regardless of whether they have health insurance.
Like other local health care providers and officials, Sloan emphasized the importance of everyone continuing to wear masks around people who aren’t in their household, practicing social distancing, frequently washing their hands and avoiding groups — even if they’ve already been inoculated.
Editor's note: This story was updated Thursday to correct the link to SSM's vaccine interest form.
Follow Susan Endres on Twitter @EndresSusan or call her at 745-3506.