Milwaukee VA Medical Center
Vaccination of outpatient Veterans begins
When Ken Borckmann and Terry Audette rolled up their sleeves Wednesday, Jan. 13, at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, little did they know they were making history.
The two became the first outpatient Veterans to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
Until then, vaccinations had been limited to hospital staff and patients.
“I think this is great,” Brockmann said after getting his shot in the hospital’s ZIHP clinic. “I don’t want to get the COVID virus.
“Hopefully it will extend my life. If I would have gotten the virus, who knows what would have happened.”
Borckmann, 81, of Sussex, and Audette, 78, of Milwaukee, received calls the previous day from the hospital that the vaccinations were available, and neither hesitated in making an appointment.
“I called right away,” Borckmann said. “I want the vaccine.”
“Why wouldn’t you get it?” Audette said. “That makes no sense to me.”
Registered nurse Vanessa Jenrich, who gave Audette his shot, said she was honored to do it.
“It feels phenomenal. We made history here,” Jenrich said.
The first by-appointment vaccination clinics were followed with a walk-in clinic over the three-day weekend (Jan. 16-18), which saw more than 1,700 Veterans vaccinated.
Another walk-in clinic will take place this weekend, Jan. 23-24. Hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to noon Sunday.
Veterans age 65 years old and older, those on dialysis, undergoing chemotherapy or homeless are eligible to receive the vaccine at this time.
Vaccinations are also available throughout the week by appointment only. Veterans will be contacted directly. This includes the community clinics in Appleton, Cleveland, Green Bay and Union Grove.
Veterans can receive reimbursement for travel to get the vaccine.
The ZIHP (Zablocki Integrated Health Program) clinic was launched late last summer as an easy-in, easy-out clinic for Veterans to get routine procedures, such as blood draws, urinalysis and vaccinations.
The clinic is located at the west end of Building 70, which is the three-story building located just west of the hospital.
“We’re really excited to be able to do what we’ve been waiting to do for many, many months,” said Dan Prodoehl, acting assistant program manager for ZIHP. “The team here is fantastic. … Our goal is to get a lot of people coming through quickly, and to get as many people vaccinated as we can.
“Veterans, if you get that phone call, go ahead and say yes.”
Bob Jagielski, 76, of Menomonee Falls, got the vaccine later on Wednesday and encouraged all Veterans to do the same.
“I believe in the shot and I want to stay alive,” he said. “There was no pain. Come on down. I’m glad I came.”
“Just do it,” he said.