BARRON COUNTY, Wis. (WQOW) - For the next few weeks, Pfizer vaccines will be freely provided to anyone who lives, works or studies in Wisconsin as a new community-based vaccination clinic has opened in Barron County.
The site will further vaccine administration in rural northwest Wisconsin which has fallen behind surrounding counties when it comes to the number of shots going into arms.
Now, according to the latest data from the Wisconsin DHS, 40.7% of Wisconsinites have received at least a first dose of the vaccine. Compare that to Barron County where that number is only 36.4%. Neighboring Rusk County is seeing even lower numbers with only 26.6% of residents receiving at least one dose.
The new clinic in Barron County is meant to keep northwestern Wisconsin safe from COVID-19.
"Now is the time to get vaccinated. These vaccines are safe, they are effective, and they are truly saving lives across our state and across our country," said Karen Timberlake, interim secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Timberlake said getting a vaccine is important and now much easier thanks to the Barron County clinic.
"Today, we are one step closer to independence from this virus by providing this campus, this community, this entire region, a community vaccination site," said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt.
The Barron County clinic is the sixth community-based site operated by AMI Expeditionary Health in partnership with the Wisconsin DHS.
Right now, the clinic is able to administer 250 doses per day of the Pfizer vaccine. Though AMI officials expect that number to grow to 500 in the coming weeks.
One of those doses went to a UWEC-Barron County student.
"When it came out, I was a little skeptical for it. But I have to say I am really happy that I decided to get the vaccine, not only because I'm making myself safer to be out in the community, but I'm also letting my other community members feel safe being around me," said student Clare Dellinger.
Barron County health officials admit not everyone is enthusiastic about stepping up to get a vaccine, so they are urging community members to give them a call.
"We know that there is hesitancy about, 'is this safe for me?' We want people to feel comfortable reaching out and asking questions about the vaccine," said Laura Sauve, Barron County health officer.
The free vaccine is available to anyone 16 and older and you don't need an ID, proof of insurance or citizenship proof.
The vaccination site is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.