SSM Health organizes a sensory vaccination clinic

LAKE BOTTOM, Wis. – A health care system in Wisconsin is working to ease anxiety over vaccinations, especially among young children.

What do you want to know

  • Patients requiring accommodation for a COVID-19 vaccination could go to a sensory clinic in Fond du Lac
  • SSM Health and the Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin hosted the clinic on Saturday
  • Patients received sensory agitations, distraction strategies, and other comfort items

SSM Health has partnered with the Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin to host a COVID-19 sensory vaccination clinic on Saturday. The clinic at Center SSM Santé Treffert in Fond du Lac included sensory agitations, distraction strategies, and other accommodations to reduce stress during the appointment. Although autistic friendly, the clinic was open to anyone needing extra help during their vaccination.​

“On our registration form, we left space and time to share accommodations that have helped them in the past,” said Meg Puddy, autism services manager at SSM Health Treffert Center. “What fears might they have regarding vaccination and any other advice or tips they might let us know to welcome them when they arrive and provide them with the necessary support.”

“We often hear that typical community events and rhythms often don’t work for them, they have different needs and challenges, so we’re so grateful to our partners who help build more inclusive spaces like this” , said Kirsten Cooper, Executive Director of the Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin.

Health workers administered doses of the Pfizer vaccine, approved for children five and older, as well as booster doses for children 12 and older. This gave participants more flexibility, support and patience when they received their injection.

“It’s not that hard to listen, to think about how we can support individuals differently and make vaccines more accessible through our medical and travel service providers,” Puddy added.

SSM Health staff estimate that 30 people were vaccinated at the clinic on Saturday. A follow-up clinic will take place on February 26, 2022 at the Treffert Center. The Treffert Center offers multidisciplinary diagnosis and treatment of autism and behavioral communication disorders in children and adults. You can read more about their work here.

The Autism Society of America helped make the clinic possible.

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