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Winona Health gives first COVID-19 vaccine

Kaitlyn Riley

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A Winona Health doctor was the first to receive a vaccine to protect frontline workers against the coronavirus.

In a live broadcast Friday, Dr. Joseph Kaiya accepted the vaccine followed by a round of applause.

Winona Health received a shipment of the Pfizer vaccine this week. After undergoing specific training about the vaccine, the hospital said it will administer it to prioritized staff and long-term care residents.

“We’ve had a team working on the rollout plans, and, although there is a long way to go before we can consider the pandemic over, this is a big step in the right direction,” Rachelle Schultz, Winona Health president/CEO said.

According to the hospital, Winona Health has two ultra-cold freezers and has been designated a hub for vaccine shipments. The organization will initially receive a shipment of 975 initial doses of the vaccine. Of those, 775 will be used for healthcare workers and long-term care residents at Winona Health. The remaining 200 will go to the healthcare staff in Wabasha.

“Staff directly caring for COVID-19 positive patients will be given first priority to receive the vaccine,” Schultz said. “The vaccine is not mandatory. One of the reasons we held the informational employee forums about the vaccine was to give staff as much information as possible so they could make an informed decision about receiving the vaccine.”

The vaccine requires two doses 21 days apart.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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