By Gary Johnson
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena hosted a mass community vaccination site for COVID-19 starting April 18.
The site, announced by Gov. Tony Evers and coordinated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along with state and local partners, opened its doors to community members to provide an efficient and easily accessible site for west-central Wisconsinites to obtain the vaccine.
Only the second such site established in the state at that time, the Zorn Arena location was selected for its capacity to vaccinate thousands in relatively short periods of time, as well as its easy access for residents in the city and for visitors to Eau Claire via U.S. Highways 12 and 53, and Interstate 94.
The mass vaccination clinic is a joint effort among the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, UW-Eau Claire, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the state of Wisconsin and FEMA Region 5.
“FEMA and our federal partners are committed to expanding vaccine access to communities across the state of Wisconsin,” says Kevin M. Sligh, acting regional administrator, FEMA Region 5. “This site in Eau Claire provides safe and effective vaccines to northwest Wisconsin and is a critical resource in the fight to end this pandemic.”
UW-Eau Claire’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences faculty, staff and students provided support for the initial clinics in Zorn Arena and will continue to support the Eau Claire City-County Health Department with the mass vaccination clinic.
“We are proud to be able to help the community in the ongoing fight against COVID-19, and thanks to our partners at the local, state and federal level, this vaccination site is helping western Wisconsin move forward,” UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt says.
As of May 1, a total of 5,848 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered, and the number of second doses administered stood at 1,776.
Eau Claire City-County Health Department director Lieske Giese is grateful for the partnerships making mass vaccination possible and reminds all community members to take advantage of the vaccine availability so the community can enjoy the summer months with the benefit of immunity.
“Vaccine is available at Zorn Arena for anyone 16 and older, and access to this vaccination through vaccinate.wi.gov is easy for everyone,” Giese says. “We hope for many in the community to be fully vaccinated by the time summer begins.”