Local healthcare organizations warn COVID-19 vaccine won’t be available before spring 

    HealthScope: Waisman Biomanufacturing staff use a microscope to evaluate cell growth. The UW–Madison biopharmaceutical contract manufacturer is partnering with Heat Biologics to produce a COVID-19 vaccine for phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials. Credit: Todd Brown, Media Solutions, UW School of Medicine and Public
    Waisman Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility HealthScope: Waisman Biomanufacturing staff use a microscope to evaluate cell growth. The UW–Madison biopharmaceutical contract manufacturer is partnering with Heat Biologics to produce a COVID-19 vaccine for phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials. Credit: Todd Brown, Media Solutions, UW School of Medicine and Public

    A group of Dane County health organizations is asking the public to take care over the holidays to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19. 

    “Despite recent positive news about vaccine development, the general public is unlikely to receive vaccines until Spring of 2021 at the earliest,” the healthcare organizations, including SSM Health, UW Health, Public Health Madison & Dane County said in a joint statement.

    The group asked people to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Wisconsin Department of Health Services websites for answers to frequently asked questions about the vaccine, instead of tying up phone lines to healthcare providers with these questions.  

    “Recommendations on how the early vaccine dosages are distributed will be developed at the federal level, and the first phase of vaccine distribution is expected to focus on frontline healthcare workers in patient service with the highest risk of exposure,” the statement continued. 

    People should not count on a vaccine to protect them this winter, the healthcare providers said in their message.

    “Because a COVID-19 vaccine is not likely to be available for the public until Spring 2021 or later, it is imperative that the public continue to follow safety measures, especially as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, to prevent the spread of the virus and avoid further strain on local hospitals.”

    Among the preventive measures the health department recommended are: 

    • Don’t gather in the presence of those outside your immediate household, and if you must, wear a mask and stay at least six feet apart.
    • Wear a mask when in public, even in outdoor locations.
    • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing thoroughly and rinsing completely.
    • If you have symptoms stay home.

    The Dane County healthcare organizations who supported the public health message are:

    • Access Community Health Centers
    • Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin
    • Public Health Madison & Dane County
    • SSM Health
    • Stoughton Health
    •  UnityPoint Health ‒ Meriter
    • UW Health
    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.