Oneida County Health Department Ramps Up COVID-19 Vaccinations

Feb 9, 2021

Credit Oneida County Health Department Facebook

The Oneida County Health Department has got its system down.

People make an appointment, they drive up to Grace Foursquare Church, and get handed a buzzer like you’d find at restaurants while you’re waiting for a table.

When it’s your turn the buzzer goes off, you go inside, and several tables are set up with people ready to give you your shot.

Once vaccinated, you wait for 15 minutes in a chair that’s six feet from any others and you’re on your way.

This process has allowed the Health Department to vaccinate roughly 55 people an hour.

“Last weekend we did just over 500 on both days and we’re expecting to do the same [Friday],” said County Health Director Linda Conlon.

Conlon said it hasn’t been without its hiccups. The most limiting factor is lack of vaccine, which is out of the health departments control. The other issue has been the online scheduling for appointments.

“We had about 1,800 people on the waitlist. We sent out emails to try and get them scheduled,” said Conlon. “It’s been a little bit bumpy. Some people don’t have the internet, or some people aren’t comfortable using the internet.”

Conlon is proud of the system and all the people working to make it run smoothly.

“We’re in this for the long run. It’s going to be months of vaccinating,” said Conlon.

The County Emergency Management Department helps direct people and keeps lines moving. Health department workers and volunteers get people signed in and on their way.

And people from all different places are helping administer the shots. Some are volunteer nurses and EMTs that are doing this in their free time.

Others are from the Rhinelander Fire Department like Luke Drummond.

“There’s people that don’t like needles and they’re a little bit nervous and afraid of that, but for the most part, I think people are excited. It’s one step closer to a normal life again,” said Drummond.

Jill Blake is a limited term employee with the health department.

“I’m just excited to bring it to Oneida County,” said Blake. “We’ve been waiting a long time and all of us have been shut in for so long that I’m happy to be able to start to get our community moving again.”

Everyone WXPR spoke with was amazed the by the high-pace efficiency of the clinics.

“It’s busy, but it’s so well organized and people are thankful we have it here for them,” said Blake.

Sue Stein is one of those people. She got her first dose Friday. Stein said she was slightly hesitant to get the vaccine, but ultimately her nurse made it easy and she knows it will help.

“We had Christine and she did great. Didn’t feel a thing. Whatever we can do not to get this terrible thing, we’ll do it,” said Stein.

Between these clinics and other healthcare providers giving shots more than 6,500 doses have been administered in Oneida County.

While that’s a start to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, people still need to be cautious and follow COVID safety guidelines.

Even after you get fully vaccination, health experts say it’s important to still wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.

That will likely be the case until enough of the population has been vaccinated.

If you are in an eligible group and still need to get your vaccine, Conlon recommends regularly checking the OCHD website. You'll be able to schedule an appointment as doses become available. 

You can also check out the WXPR local vaccination information page to find other ways to set up vaccination appointments.