People over 65 are now entitled to the COVID-19 vaccine but should not contact hospitals and doctors.
Health systems and community health centers in the Milwaukee area are creating lists of eligible patients, referring to information from their electronic health records, and planning to contact them to schedule appointments for the vaccine.
Hospitals, health centers and doctors have been besieged by phone calls since the state announced that people 65 and over could be vaccinated.
But when people can get the vaccine depends on when and how many doses are available – and that is unknown.
“The biggest challenge is that we don’t know what our allocation is week after week,” said Gerry Steele, a spokeswoman for Froedtert Health.
What is known is that all of this takes time.
Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington counties have approximately 250,000 people over the age of 65. Supplies are limited and vaccination for everyone in this age group is expected to take several months.
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Another complication is that two shots are required for full immunity. The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is 95% effective. The Moderna vaccine is 94% effective. Both are much more effective than seasonal flu vaccines.
This means that it would take 500,000 doses of the vaccine to vaccinate 250,000 people.
“Continue to be patient,” said Anthony Linn, physician and chief medical officer of the Outreach Community Health Centers. “We will get back to you as soon as possible.”
He encouraged people to get the vaccine when they are entitled – and to speak to their doctor or a coworker if they are careful.
The federal government pays the cost of the vaccine and there are no costs for patients.
Here is some basic information about what health systems and community health centers in the Milwaukee area are doing for the next phase of the vaccine rollout – and what is known so far about how people who are not patients on these systems can be vaccinated.
More:Milwaukee VA Medical Center plans to vaccinate thousands, but not every veteran is eligible. Here’s what to know.
Health systems will begin vaccinating patients 65 years or older who have primary care with the network of Froedtert & Medical College in Wisconsin on Monday.
It will contact patients by email, letter or via the MyChart function of its electronic health record system to schedule an appointment for the vaccine.
Patients are asked to set up a MyChart account and download the Froedtert & MCW mobile app.
Froedtert Health does not have a waiting list.
The health system has set up a hotline where people can request information. The number is 414-805-2000. Further information can also be found at Froedtert.com/covidvaccine.
Froedtert Health plans to offer vaccines to people who are not its patients as soon as care is available.
Aurora patients must download the LiveWell app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. All vaccinations are scheduled via the app.
Aurora, part of Advocate Aurora Health, will contact patients through the app to schedule an appointment for the vaccine.
The health system said they updated the app with easy-to-follow instructions.
Attorney Aurora is also working on ways to schedule patients who may not have a smartphone or are unfamiliar with the technology, said Mike Riopell, a spokesman.
Aurora won’t have a waiting list either. But she also hopes to be able to offer vaccinations to people who are not patients as soon as care is available.
More information is available at aah.org/vaccine.
The health care system will be in touch with its patients aged 65 and over who are eligible for the vaccine to make appointments.
People must be patients of Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin.
The health system, which will have its first eligible patients vaccination clinic on Monday, urged people not to call its hospitals or clinics.
More information is available at healthcare.ascension.org/COVID-19/vaccinations.
ProHealth Care will contact its patients via email, text or phone to let them know when they can make an appointment for a vaccination.
The health system sets up a single place for the vaccinations.
“We will vaccinate as many patients as possible as soon as possible,” it said in a statement.
More information is available at ProHealthCare.org/Vaccination.
Community health centers
The four community health centers and the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center in Milwaukee serve approximately 85,000 people, and their clinics will be one of the sites offering vaccination.
Progressive Community Health Centers plans to start vaccinating patients 65 and over next week. Currently, the vaccines are only available to their patients and only by appointment.
The community health center reaches out to its patients who are eligible for the vaccine.
“We ask for your patience as we work through the vaccination rollout process,” said Sarah Franҫois, director of fund development and marketing for the community health center, in an email. “While we’d like to vaccinate everyone right away, our capacity is dependent on government guidelines, dose allotment, and staff.”
Outreach Community Health Centers Linn, the chief medical officer, plans to call patients via text, the MyChart feature of the electronic health record system, or in some cases, direct.
You are asked to call or make an appointment through MyChart.
The community health center, which plans to start administering the vaccines next week, has drawn up a list of patients over 65 from medical records.
Milwaukee Health ServicesHe also speaks to his patients.
One challenge is that it may not know how many vaccines it will receive until the day before it arrives, Doctor, President and CEO Tito Izard said in an email.
“This makes it difficult to contact and coordinate patients who need transportation or assistance upon arrival at the clinic,” he said.
Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers expects a slow rollout as a small number of vaccines are expected to be received each week.
There are plans to call patients weekly to make appointments.
It is currently struggling with the number of calls from patients asking questions about when the vaccine will be available, Sixteenth Street spokeswoman Alison True said in an email.
The Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, which receives its vaccines from the Indian Health Service, has started giving vaccines to people aged 60 and over.
The health center, which initially restricted the vaccines to patients aged 70 and over, vaccinated 70 patients on Monday.
It also limits vaccinations to people who are patients of the health center and contacts them directly.
The health center plans to roll out gradually based on age and the most vulnerable patients.
“The vaccine is here, it will only take time,” said Lyle Ignace, doctor and CEO of the health center, in an email.
Patients of independent doctors
People whose doctors do not work for a health system or community health center can get the vaccine in other locations, although some details are not yet known.
The Milwaukee City Immunization Center in the Wisconsin Center is one place where vaccines are available to such patients.
The health departments of other communities and some retail stores like Meijer are also planning vaccinations.
A good place to start for information is to visit Milwaukee County’s HealthyMKE.com website, which can link eligible individuals with places where the vaccine can be obtained.