The Department of Health Services (DHS) announced on January 26 that the next groups eligible for the vaccine, tentatively beginning on March 1, are being prioritized due to an increased risk of exposure or vulnerability to COVID-19 and are consistent with the recommendations from the State Disaster Medical Assistance Committee (SDMAC).
The groups in priority order include 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.
Currently, fire, police, and people over age 65 are on the docket for vaccines.
“We’re going to keep getting shots in arms as quickly as possible and as soon we have vaccines available,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “In the meantime, we have to continue working together to prevent the spread of this virus by wearing face coverings and limiting gatherings with others while we vaccinate folks across our state.”
March 1 is a tentative date, dependent on vaccine supply from the federal government. If vaccine supply increases from the federal government, those populations may be eligible before March 1. However, if vaccine supply decreases, they may be eligible after March 1. Currently, Wisconsin is receiving about 70,000 vaccine doses weekly.
Due to a limited supply of vaccine, SDMAC prioritized groups for eligibility. Thse recommendations come after SDMAC reviewed the science and considered nearly 5,000 public comments to provide guidance that equitably distributes the vaccine across the state.
“I know everyone is eager to get protected from COVID-19. With the current allocation from the federal government, it will take considerable time until we have enough vaccine for everyone,” said DHS Interim Secretary Karen Timberlake. “Until then, we have tools available right now to help slow the spread. By continuing to stay home, wearing a mask, physical distancing, and quarantining if you are feeling ill — you are helping to protect yourself and your neighbors. And these practices are critical to our vaccination program.”
Due to the unique needs of each community, local and tribal health departments are leading the coordination of vaccination efforts. DHS is supporting these efforts and helping address any gaps in vaccine accessibility. In addition, Wisconsin’s mobile vaccination program allows health departments to request on-the-ground mobile vaccination teams in order to help with vaccinations.
“By engaging in partnerships with local, state, and federal partners, we are able to ensure the vaccine will be delivered quickly and efficiently,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. “As we expand our program, we will continue to implement new strategies and build new partnerships so we can meet the unique needs of each community across the state.”
As the federal government allocates more vaccine to Wisconsin, populations eligible for COVID-19 vaccination will continue to expand. DHS is working to get COVID-19 vaccine to Wisconsinites as equitably, quickly, and safely as possible, the agency said.
For elibility information: Wisconsin’s Vaccine Phases and Eligibility webpage. For information, resources, and data related to Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccination program: COVID-19 vaccine webpage.