Graham Kilmer

State Announces Next Phase of Vaccines

More groups will be added on March 1. President Biden ramping up federal vaccines delivered to states.

By - Jan 26th, 2021 05:47 pm
Dr. Ben Weston receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Photo courtesy of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. Ben Weston receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Photo courtesy of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

The state released its final list of those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine once the next phase of vaccination begins.

The state Department of Health Services (DHS) announced that the tentative start of the next phase of vaccinations will be March 1st. 

DHS arrived at this date based upon an estimation of how long it will take to vaccinate 50% of state residents aged 65 or older. If the state continues to receive approximately 70,000 first doses of vaccine on a weekly basis, it will reach that goal by March 1st.

But President Joe Biden announced the first ramp-up of vaccine distribution, increasing the weekly allocation by more than 1 million doses. During a press conference Tuesday, the president said the federal government would increase the weekly allotment from 8.6 million to 10 million doses, allowing “millions of more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated.”

A statement from the White House said the president directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to purchase an additional 200 million doses of vaccine to be administered this summer.

The president made the announcement shortly after DHS announced the state’s timeline for moving on to the next phase of vaccination. The pace for moving through the phases has been dependent on vaccine allocation, officials have repeatedly said, so the announcement from the White House could move up the tentative start date for the next phase.

The groups in that next phase are largely those recommended by the State Disaster medical Advisory Committee SDMAC, which has been developing recommendations for the phased rollout of the vaccine, with one exception: DHS added non-frontline health care workers, which a majority of SDMAC voted against including in the next phase.

In a statement released Tuesday, DHS said the priority order for vaccination during the next phase is “education and child care, individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline health care essential personnel, and facility staff and residents in congregate living settings.”

In a media briefing Tuesday, Julie Willems Van Dijk, DHS deputy secretary, said last week vaccinators requested twice as much vaccine as the state could give out, demonstrating that the state can quickly expand vaccination but remains dependent on the availability of vaccine.

For weeks, Governor Tony Evers, and top DHS officials have been saying that the greatest barrier to increased vaccination is the level of vaccine being allocated to the state.

“We want everyone who wants a vaccine in Wisconsin to get a vaccine and in the future that will be a reality,” Willems Van Dijk said.

In the past week, the state has administered more than 114,000 doses of vaccine bringing the total number since vaccination began up to 362,505. So far, 69,707 people have received both doses of the vaccine.

In total, the federal government has allocated more than 846,000 doses to Wisconsin. Currently, the state has ordered 641,150 based upon requests from vaccinators and 167,850 will be delivered to vaccinators this week.

The most doses that have been administered in a single day so far was 23,904 last week Thursday.

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