Gov. Tony Evers visits UWL to attend opening of Cleary Center vaccine clinic


Photo taken by Sam White.

Cleary Alumni & Friends Center vaccine clinic.

Sam White, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Gov. Tony Evers visited The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse on March 9 to attend the opening event of the new COVID-19 vaccine clinic located in the Cleary Alumni & Friends Center. Evers was joined by Chancellor Joe Gow, University of Wisconsin system president and former Gov. Tommy Thompson, as well as several local and state representatives.

After a tour of the facilities, Thompson held a press conference to explain the purpose and goals of the new clinic. Thompson explained that the vaccine clinic will start by administering around 200 vaccines a day. By next week the goal is to administer around 1,000 vaccines daily, as long as vaccines are readily available. They plan on completing vaccines for those 65 and older and then will start vaccinating professors and employees of UWL. They plan on vaccinating over 500 UWL staff immediately.

Gov. Evers said that Wisconsin is one of the number one states in the country when it comes to administering vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine became available the second week of December, and over the course of four months, 1.2 million Wisconsin residents have had one shot and 600,000 have been fully vaccinated.

The vaccine center in Cleary Alumni & Friends Center is only the second community-based vaccination clinic in Wisconsin, the first one is located in Rock County. Gov. Evers said there are currently several more clinics being planned. Racine and Marathon Counties will be opening clinics of their own, while Barron and Douglas Counties will share a site. These sites will be opening in the upcoming weeks.

Over the past year, several testing sites opened on UW campuses across the state, and over one million tests have been completed at these sites. Thompson explained that testing was handled well, so it made sense to utilize the UW System as a community partner to distribute and administer as many vaccines as possible.

Gov. Tony Evers. (Photo taken by Sam White.)

Thompson said having a local vaccine clinic is an important step in assisting the community to get back to a sense of normalcy. “We are going to be able to vaccinate people, get them safe, allow them to get back to their families, get the economy booming and get the schools moving,” he said. Thompson said he thanks the students on campus, saying that because of their enforcement of social distancing and wearing masks, they have been able to keep schools open.

Chancellor Gow said, “The Wisconsin idea is what it’s all about, if there is a challenge in the state, the university will step forward and meet that challenge… it’s a historic day.”  

The clinic will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Vaccines will be administered by appointment only. It is located in the Cleary Alumni & Friends Center and is currently focusing on community members who are 65 and older.

The next group focus will shift to essential workers, people who work in education, and those who have high-risk medical conditions. After vaccinating high-risk populations, the clinic will be open to anyone wanting the vaccine, including UWL students. If you or someone you know are looking to get the vaccine, an appointment can be made on the Wisconsin COVID-19 vaccine registry.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, which approves vaccines for use in the U.S., “The COVID-19 vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.” While there are a few side effects associated with the vaccine, most are very mild.

Some of the most common side effects are pain at the injection site, chills, headache, tiredness, and fever. Very few serious side effects have been reported, and the FDA has approved three different vaccines for emergency use. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, while the Johnson and Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.