UWEC partners with FEMA to host a mass vaccination clinic

On April 8, Zorn Arena to open clinic to provide up to 3,500 vaccinations per week

More stories from Amira Lunderville


Photo by McKenna Dirks

The new vaccination clinic on campus is opening April 8.

On April 8, a Federal Emergency Management Agency-supported vaccination clinic will open on the UW-Eau Claire campus in Zorn Arena for eligible staff, faculty, students and community members.

Jodi Thesing-Ritter, executive director for Diversity and Inclusion, said current vaccinations have been going well since the campus started offering them.

“We have had a huge rollout, in large part to the excellent work of Student Health Service and College of Nursing faculty and students,” Thesing-Ritter said. “Nursing students are getting a historical educational opportunity as we collaborate with the nursing department.”

Grace Crickette, vice chancellor of Finance and Administration, said spots for vaccinations have been filled 100% each time someone is invited to be vaccinated.

Through the vaccination clinics with SHS, 672 individuals have begun or completed the vaccination series, Angela Milas, clinic nurse manager of Student Health Services, said.

In the collaborative clinic with the Eau Claire Health Department, 503 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine were given, Thesing-Ritter said.

“We had a wonderful run of the Johnson and Johnson clinic with the collaboration with the Health Department,” Thesing-Ritter said. “It has helped us learn some things for our planning team (for the FEMA-supported clinic).”

The expected number of vaccinations provided by this clinic will be 3,500 per week, Thesing-Ritter said. The ultimate goal is to provide 1,200 per day.

Kayla Thomas, a fourth-year nursing student, said she is able to give the vaccine with the supervision of her nursing professors and is excited more vaccinations have been made available.

“I’ve worked at a local hospital through the pandemic and have seen a lot of people die from COVID-19 or not recover fully,” Thomas said. “I want to be able to use my education to help other people, so being able to give vaccinations is really rewarding.”

Thomas was eligible to receive the vaccine early on because of her job, she said. She has had both rounds of the vaccination and said it was really good for her.

“I got it on my way to work so it was just another part of my day,” Thomas said. “It was kind of like getting the flu shot.”

As a student, Thomas said it makes volunteering in the clinic easier when she sees people in the community wanting to get the vaccine and improve everyone’s outcomes of fighting the pandemic.

The university is a big and important part of the community, and they took the responsibility to step up and take care of the clinic, Thomas said.

Crickette said the focus is on getting the job done. With every step they’ve taken, whether it’s testing or vaccination, there is a level of excitement, level of focus and a level of intensity because it’s so important.

“We’ve had an entire attitude change,” Crickette said. “We are going to do everything we can to fight this, and to support our employees, students and community.”

In preparation for the FEMA-supported clinic, there has been a lot of planning and organizing to make sure things will run smoothly, Crickette said.

There is a lot of coordination in how the teams will work together, identifying the right people and making sure everyone has the information they need, providing training to those who don’t already have it and more, Crickette said.

“We’ve also had to make physical changes to make sure we can operate the clinic in the most optimum way,” Crickette said. “We’ve had to make improvements in Zorn to accommodate the clinic, move some testing back up to McPhee, get equipment, et cetera.”

The most important part is that those who are eligible know they are eligible, Thesing-Ritter said.

“Almost all people on campus are eligible already,” she said.

Currently, frontline health care personnel, educators and childcare staff, people who work at grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations that sell groceries and restaurant workers and individuals with certain medical conditions are eligible, Thesing-Ritter said.

On Monday, April 5, 2021, all people ages 16 and up will be eligible for the vaccine, Crickette said.

For more information about who is currently eligible, go to the Health Department’s website.

For more information about the vaccine, and other COVID-19-related questions,  go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Lunderville can be reached at [email protected].