Wisconsin health officials are reviewing a proposal that would expand eligibility for the state’s Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccinations, despite facing meager federal vaccine allocations and administrative logistical challenges.
Currently, all non-medical police and fire personnel, as well as the 700,000 Wisconsinites over 65, are eligible for Phase 1B of vaccinations, according to the Department of Health Services.
According to The Cap Times, a new proposal submitted Thursday by the State Advisory Committee would add teachers, daycare workers, public transit workers, utility workers, grocery store and other food chain employees, some adults receiving disability benefits and mink farmers to those eligible to receive the vaccine.
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If the proposal passes, 1.6 million people — one-third of the state’s population — would be included in Phase 1B, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The state is only expecting to receive 70,000 vaccine doses per week from the federal government, and vaccinating the senior population alone with their first doses would take 10 weeks, according to The Cap Times.
Accessing and navigating their providers’ websites may prove difficult for Wisconsinites over 65 due to the large difference between the amount of people being vaccinated and the available vaccine doses. Many vaccinators — including pharmacies, doctor’s offices, public health departments — only began requesting vaccines this week because seniors were previously not eligible, according to The Cap Times.
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Health systems and public health agencies are considering other ways to vaccinate frontline workers. For teachers, Deputy Secretary for the State Department of Health Services Julie Willems Van Dijk said to The Cap Times that the state is looking at partnering with pharmacy chains to hold “vaccination days” in school districts to immunize school faculty and staff.
“It’s going to take time, and [people seeking vaccines] need to be patient,” Willems Van Dijk said to The Cap Times.
According to the DHS COVID-19 dashboard, the state’s seven-day average by test for COVID-19 infections is at 6.1%. According to the Public Health Madison and Dane County dashboard, Dane County’s rate is a little lower at 3.4%.