Graham Kilmer

8.7% of State Now Fully Vaccinated

Next phase underway. Nation's addition of Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine will speed up efforts.

By - Mar 2nd, 2021 06:24 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 continues to gradually increase the rate of vaccination as it begins the second phase of vaccination this week now that more than half of residents 65 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine.

In the past week, an additional 2.4% of the state’s population has completed the two-dose vaccination process. More than half a million, or 8.7% of state residents have now been vaccinated. In total, nearly 1.5 million doses have been administered statewide.

The rate of vaccination in Wisconsin has been steadily increasing. It is now among the best performing states as it has used 93% of all vaccines allocated to it by the federal government.

The recent emergency approval by the federal Food and Drug Administration of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to significantly boost vaccination efforts. The vaccine, with its single shot, and simpler storage and shipping protocols, is easier to administer in casual settings like community centers, shelters and homes, said Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for Milwaukee County.

Weston and state public health officials have all said people should not be concerned with which vaccine they are getting. Weston noted the efficacy rates determined by the clinical trials for each vaccine are not an “apples to apples” comparison, as they took place in different communities around the world with different strains of the virus.

Moreover, all three vaccines, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna have shown they are 100% effective at preventing severe COVID-19 outcomes like hospitalization and death.

Last week, Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary for the state Department of Health Services, said the federal government had upped Wisconsin’s vaccine allocation to 115,000 doses week. Following its approved for use, approximately 47,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are expected to arrive in Wisconsin next week, said officials.

The state will not likely see another shipment of this vaccine until the end of March when production scales up, Willems Van Dijk said.

Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. is on track to have enough vaccine to immunize every adult in the country by the end of May. This is the most optimistic timeline for nationwide vaccination yet. The president said this while explaining a recent partnership between the pharmaceutical company Merck and Johnson & Johnson to manufacture the latter’s new one-shot vaccine.

As the state moves into the next phase of vaccination, phase 1b, those that are in phase 1a are still eligible and prioritized for vaccination.

Phase 1b includes education and child care workers, 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. It’s estimated this phase includes approximately 1.6 million people.

Education and childcare workers are the first up for prioritization in the phase. In Milwaukee, Mayor Tom Barrett said the city and the Health Department are planning to vaccinate every educator and childcare worker that wants a vaccine by March 15th.

Interim Health Director said the City of Milwaukee is planning to receive and administer 17,000 doses for educators between March 1st and 14th.

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