Closing the gap: Public Health in Rock County aims to up vaccine numbers with high school clinics

EDGERTON, Wis. – Nearly 300 people were able to get a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Edgerton High School Thursday afternoon, in what is to be the first of several pop-up clinics in Rock County.

The clinics aim to reach a population of 12-18 year olds in Rock County – of which roughly just 2,000 have gotten a first dose.

It’s one way local health officials hope to boost the county’s overall vaccination rate, which currently sits at just 44% of residents with one dose complete.

We’re not looking at herd immunity right now,” said Rock County Public Health Epidemiologist Nick Zupan. “We’re looking at how many people we can get vaccinated as quickly as possible to reduce the spread of the disease.”

School officials say they’re hopeful by getting students vaccinated, they’ll be able to do activities during the 2021-2022 school year they’ve missed out on for some time.

I want to get back to students being able to have the student life they were afforded before the pandemic,” said Principal Dr. Mark Coombs.  “Social distancing doesn’t allow us to do some of the things in school that we want to be able to do – whether that’s a sports related event, not just sports but the student section. Whether that be homecoming, whether that be prom. Whether that be a pep assembly, whether that’s a play or a musical. There are so many events that go on that social distancing makes impossible to put on.”

Students who got the shot Thursday say they feel the same way. 

I’m looking forward to a lot of involvement in sports such as like football games, and going to stuff where you can’t have jam packed people in,” said 10th grader Jessi Salines. “Things like choir and band concerts… just being back in groups that we weren’t able to.”

Rock County Public Health is planning more high school clinics in the coming days, with clinics in Orfordville and Clinton next week.

“At this point, we’re focused on getting as many people as vaccinated as possible,” Zupan said.  “I don’t know what the timing will be.”