Freiheit: New COVID-19 vaccination tactic similar to polio response, more mobile

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KENOSHA COUNTY ⏤ Kenosha County Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit told the county Health Board Tuesday that the new approach to fighting COVID-19 mirrors that used to fight polio in the mid-1900s.

“Be mobile,” she told the county Health Board. “Be in the neighborhoods.”

“That’s our strategy this summer.”

She also equated the shift in COVID-19 response for the established clinics to more mobile teams to the same response that the U.S. used to help eradicate polio in the 1950s. This will entail mobile teams going out into city neighborhoods and into the West End to bring vaccines to the people.


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‘Outbreaks at nearly every school,’ Freiheit says

In the schools, it is not only a few buildings facing outbreaks currently, she also reported.

“We’re experiencing outbreaks in nearly every school,” Freiheit told the board, adding that 25% of new COVID-19 cases in the county are people under the age of 18.

COVID era a strain on health department

Freiheit also made it clear to the board that the ongoing and near 24-hour response to the pandemic has been extremely draining on local healthcare workers.

“It’s a very large burden (on the department’s three employees) to trace everything,” she said.

She repeated these words, slightly altered, later in the meeting, emphasizing the stress workers on the front lines of the pandemic have lived with. 

“This past 15 months has been extremely difficult for the health department.” 

Kenosha County Health Officer Jen Freiheit

She also noted that eight health officers in the southwest region had left their post, via retirement or other means, since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

Freiheit: ‘Now the real work begins’

However, it is not about to ease up, unfortunately, with the ongoing mobile vaccination efforts.

“Now the real work begins,” she said. “It’s not over for us.”

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Kenosha County Health Officer Jen Freiheit. File Photo by Daniel Thompson/The Uptown Observer.

New vaccination dashboard

Freiheit also unveiled a new dashboard on the county’s website where residents can see the latest county vaccination data.

According to the dashboard, as of Tuesday evening, 119,330 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the county. As a result, 66,975 residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine. That equates to roughly 40% of the total Kenosha County population.

According to the data, the county has fully vaccinated 56,600 residents as of Tuesday evening.

It has also partially vaccinated another 10,300 residents.

Meanwhile positive case numbers are staying down this week, “kissing 4%” after an uptick in hospitalizations last week, Freiheit said.

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Need community leaders to ease vaccine fears

Another major factor in whether the local vaccination effort will ultimately be successful or not will come down to community leaders’ involvement, Freiheit said.

She’s hoping that community leaders will also help promote vaccination. This community-led effort would truly help the county make it the final way to herd immunity, she said.

“We’re really relying on those local leaders to help us get back to normal.”

Kenosha County Health Officer Jen Freiheit

To see the county’s latest COVID-19 vaccination data, visit https://kenoshacounty.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/69387d9aed2242d085aa8a6b99993e3a.

For information on the county’s general pandemic response, visit https://kenosha-county-covid-19-response-kenoshacounty.hub.arcgis.com/.


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