Vaccine efforts shift to pop-up clinics

MADISON, Wis. — Health leaders are changing up their strategy a bit and shifting to more pop-up COVID vaccine clinics, going to people where they are instead of waiting for people to come to physical clinics or the Alliant Energy Center.

Public Health Madison & Dane County has been hosting three pop-up clinics a week, but this week they’re doing 12.

Check out the map below to see all the pop-up clinics planned through PHMDC. Locations include libraries, a sports bar, and even a salon.

SSM Health is also shifting to more pop-up vaccination clinics. In the last month, they’ve set up at some unique locations including inside a barn and at a cheese factory.

On Tuesday SSM Health staff are heading to the Hiawatha Residence Hall in Wisconsin Dells to vaccinate J-1 exchange students who work at tourist attractions such as Noah’s Ark and Mt. Olympus Water Park. That clinic is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and open to everyone.

On Friday, SSM Health will also be at Blain Supply in Janesville from noon to 4 p.m. to vaccinate anyone 12 and older.

“I think there’s just always going to be folks that are shy of healthcare or trepidatious of healthcare, and we’re going to do these clinics in a library, a restaurant, you know the Majestic theatre downtown. We’re going to go where you are. You don’t have to show an ID, you just have to show up, give us your name, show us your arm and we’ll do the rest,” said Jenny Bothun with SSM Health.

Bothum said while Dane County has good vaccination rates, surrounding counties aren’t doing as well. So SSM Health is focusing on getting clinics to Rock, Sauk, Jefferson, and Green counties.

Even though data from the Department of Health Services shows almost 70% of Dane County adults are vaccinated, Public Health Madison & Dane County is still working to get to those that haven’t been vaccinated yet.

“The data drives where we go,” said Tess Ellens, Immunizations Coordinator at PHMDC.

She said data also shows while about 50% of people in the Latinx community and 80% of people in the American Indian community have been vaccinated, only 30% of the Black community has received at least one dose.

“With the black community, we really need to think creatively about getting vaccine there,” said Ellens. “We love to see how high our rates are, faster than we could’ve hoped for, but we know that there’s still COVID cases. And we know that there’s a lot of people that we need to vaccinate so we have our work cut out for us still.”

When the vaccines first arrived, the goal with every clinic was to get as many shots in arms as possible. Now, what makes a vaccine event successful isn’t the number of vaccines given, but where it’s given and to who.

“My mantra lately has been one arm at a time. So if it’s driving one place and vaccinating two people, that’s two people that we’re vaccinated before,” said Bothun. “We really look at it not from how many arms we can vaccinate, but where are you located? Are the populations hard to reach? Is there hesitancy going on right now where you live?”

These pop-up clinics make the process easier for many people who might not have transportation and make them feel more comfortable in a space close to their home that they might be familiar with.