SSM Health to start vaccinating some Dane County teachers early next week

MADISON, Wis. — SSM Health plans to start vaccinating Waunakee and Sun Prairie school district staff next week.

The announcement comes a day after Public Health Madison & Dane County said plans for a mass vaccination site for teachers at the Alliant Energy Center were delayed at least two weeks due to a shortfall in vaccine supply. PHMDC reportedly requested roughly 14,000 doses for the effort, but was not granted that allocation.

SSM Health, however, said they have the supply to start vaccinating teachers next week while still having enough vaccine supply to continue vaccinating other eligible groups. Roughly 20% of the provider’s incoming vaccine allotment will go toward teachers, with the other 80% going to patients who are 65 and older, according to a news release.

The health care provider plans to start with the Waunakee School District on Tuesday, before moving on to the Sun Prairie School District on Friday.

Nick Reichhoff, Director of School Operations at the Sun Prairie Area School District, said staff are relieved.

“I think it helps some of them feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel in this pandemic,” said Reichhoff.

SSM Health chose to start with those two districts because it is the health provider for the districts through on-site clinics. SSM Health said it started planning for the vaccinations in January, once DHS first said educators would be eligible starting March 1st.

But SSM Health staff aren’t the ones administering the vaccine. They’re simply providing the doses.

“Our district office staff is going to be checking people in at the clinic, our health services staff, so our school and district nurses, are actually the ones that are going to be administering the vaccine. Our custodians are going to be insuring a hygienic environment,” said Reichhoff. “It’s really all of us coming together for one another, which I think is a really great part of the story.”

School nurses and community volunteers will also be giving the shots in Waunakee.

This frees up SSM Health employees to continue vaccinating other eligible patients.

“That’s why it took us weeks to plan, is to plan also around resources that it takes to administer the vaccine. And we are very fortunate to be working with school district partners who are willing to also be part of the process and not just receive a vaccine, but be part of delivering the vaccine,” said Mo Kharbat, SSM Health Wisconsin Regional VP of Pharmacy Services.

SSM Health still plans to help PHMDC with the collaborative teacher vaccination site at Alliant Energy when it launches in mid-March.

News 3 Now asked PHMDC about SSM Health’s plans to vaccinate teachers at individual districts despite the county’s plan to largely handle teacher vaccinations at the Alliant Energy Center.

“There were three previously scheduled vaccine clinics coordinated with schools. Those clinics are continuing as planned,” officials from PHMDC said in a statement. “All other school districts in Dane County are scheduled to receive vaccine through the partnership we have with healthcare at the Alliant Energy Center, starting the week of March 15. We are in close contact with schools and school districts in Dane County about these plans.”

PHMDC said the third school district already scheduled to receive vaccine is the DeForest Area School District.

Teachers throughout the state become eligible for vaccination on Monday, according to the latest guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.