As Wisconsin plans to open up more vaccination sites, the Wisconsin Hospital Association CEO said hospitals could be vaccinating more people, but the supply is not keeping up with the demand.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association CEO Eric Borgerding said in a statement he is frustrated with the state’s hospitals and health system’s limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin.
Vaccination appointments have been delayed or canceled because hospitals are not receiving enough vaccine doses to keep up with the community, not because hospitals cannot keep up with the demand, according to the statement.
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Borgerding said Wisconsin hospitals and health systems are again playing a critical role in the state’s response to the pandemic, as they are administering hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines to people in Wisconsin. Borgerding called for more urgency from those in charge of the vaccine production and distribution so individuals in Wisconsin and the community could benefit from the vaccine.
He also said the health system has the capacity to vaccinate thousands more every day.
“Hospitals, health systems, clinics and pharmacies requested 340,000 first doses of vaccine — just for last week, according to state officials,” Borgerding said in a statement. “But only a fraction of those requests — 71,000 doses — were fulfilled.”
With more than 6,300 Wisconsinites lost to the pandemic, Borderding’s statement comes as Gov. Tony Evers announced in a statement Tuesday that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services will open four additional community-based vaccination clinics within the next two months.
Wisconsin currently has over 1,800 vaccine providers to get available vaccines to eligible individuals. According to Evers’ statement, the new clinics’ sites were selected to address gaps in vaccine access and support vaccination efforts, with considerations given to population demographics, local health capacity and concentration of other vaccine providers.
“We are continuing to work to get vaccine doses across our state as soon as we have doses available,” Evers said in the statement. “These community-based sites are going to be critical to our work making sure that Wisconsinites can get vaccinated so we can put this pandemic behind us.”
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Borgerding said vaccine supplies are expected to improve slightly in the near term, but supplies will still be short of demand as hospitals keep working to finish protecting people 65 and older, who make up 90% of COVID-19 deaths.
Evers’ March 1 statement said Wisconsin is scheduled to make another 650,000 people eligible to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Borgerding said this increase in eligibility will widen the gap between supply and demand.
“The current situation is frustrating and confusing to those still waiting for a vaccine and a return to a more normal life,” Borgerding said. “Dedicated health care providers that have marshaled the resources to get shots into arms as quickly and safely as possible share that frustration.”
Borgerding said Wisconsin’s hospitals and health systems will continue giving as many vaccines as they get from the state, and until the supply and distribution improve, they are asking for patience from the community.