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How Ascension Wisconsin is Preparing for the COVID-19 Vaccination

By Dr. Gregory Brusko, chief clinical officer at Ascension Wisconsin
Originally published on 12/21/2020 at 2:45 p.m.

From the moment the new coronavirus and subsequent COVID-19 infection emerged in the United States, dedicated caregivers across Ascension Wisconsin -- and caregivers everywhere -- have worked tirelessly on the front lines to care for people impacted by the pandemic.

We are grateful to all of our nurses, doctors and staff for the commitment, empathy and selflessness they have shown. While 2020 has been a challenging year, the dedication of front-line caregivers everywhere has been a source of inspiration for us all.

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The development of a safe and effective vaccine has been a critical part of the world’s effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. As the pandemic continues to affect people worldwide, we have new reasons for hope.

Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have demonstrated safety and effectiveness. Ascension Wisconsin held its first COVID-19 vaccine clinic for frontline caregivers on Thursday, December 17, 2020.

All approved vaccines require extensive research, documentation and closely monitored clinical trials, some of which were completed by Ascension physicians, to determine effectiveness and safety before being submitted for approval or emergency use authorization by the FDA.

Now, as we prepare to begin the vaccination distribution and administration process, we want to assure you that we are prepared to justly, ethically and equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

How is the COVID-19 vaccine being distributed in Wisconsin?

Earlier this year, Ascension developed a workgroup to establish an overarching framework for equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccines for internal and external distribution; acknowledging the need for a coordinated response by our health system that is guided by our mission and informed by our experience of caring for our communities.

Ascension Wisconsin is following guidance issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and recommendations of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. For the first doses of vaccine available, front-line healthcare workers will be prioritized. Residents of long-term care facilities and individuals with high-risk health conditions will receive the next round of vaccinations.

We are confident our plan will effectively and safely contribute to the protection of the communities we are privileged to serve as we continue to advocate for a compassionate and just society.

We will also be conducting outreach to high-risk groups and vulnerable populations, including those who experience barriers in accessing healthcare services, to ensure members of these communities are encouraged to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

Over the coming months, these vaccines will become available to the general public, and we strongly encourage everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is made available.

I plan to get the vaccine as soon as it’s available for me – once our front-line caregivers and high-risk individuals have had the opportunity to receive it. I believe it is the right thing to do to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community.

Work to do before the vaccine is widely available

As we await widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, it will be critical for our entire community to continue wearing masks, maintaining an appropriate social distance from others and washing hands frequently to protect ourselves and those around us. We will continue to diligently follow these measures across our sites of care. You should do the same in your home and workplace. 

It has been a trying year, but with the development of these vaccines and the remarkable work of our caregivers, relief is on the horizon. As we look forward to “community immunity”, it’s important that we all work to manage our health needs with a focus on prevention – staying current on vaccinations, keeping prescriptions filled, and staying in contact with our doctors so we can be the healthiest versions of ourselves during this time.

And remember, if you need emergency care, do not delay treatment or defer any of your health care needs. Our hospitals and emergency rooms are well-prepared to safely care for you.

Additional information, including frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, is available on the Ascension Wisconsin website.


About the Author

Dr. Brusko is an accomplished healthcare leader with a wide range of experience and strengths in clinical care management performance. As the Chief Clinical Officer for Ascension Wisconsin, Dr. Brusko oversees and manages all clinical leaders, including Ascension Medical Group and hospital medical leaders to enhance quality and patient safety across Wisconsin.

 

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