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Wisconsin opens COVID-19 vaccine to everyone age 16 and over

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Everyone age 16 and older in Wisconsin will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday, April 5.

Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced the increased vaccine availability on March 30.

A statement from the health department said that Wisconsin currently leads the U.S. as one of the most efficient vaccinators.

The move to open vaccines up to everyone came four weeks earlier than expected, the statement said. The state opened up eligibility to the vaccine to adults with certain health conditions in late March.

“We knew all along our COVID-19 vaccination program would be a massive undertaking, and we’re proud Wisconsin is currently leading the country in these efforts and that we’re now able to give all Wisconsinites 16 and older the opportunity to get vaccinated,” said Gov. Evers. “This marks a major milestone in our state’s fight against this virus and gets us closer to overcoming this pandemic and bouncing back together. Thank you to all the folks in public health, vaccinators, and staff helping make this possible.”

Vaccines are being offered through DHS, county health departments, local vaccination clinics, pharmacies, healthcare providers and employers.

On March 30, DHS announced seven new pharmacies in Wisconsin that will start receiving COVID-19 vaccines this week, as part of a federal program.

Those pharmacies include Costco, CVS, Hy-Vee, Good Neighbor, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Health Mart, Medicine Shoppe and Cardinal Health, and Topco.

Beginning this week, nearly 600 pharmacies in Wisconsin will be able to order nearly 95,000 first doses from the federal government of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“We are excited to expand this program in order to bring more vaccine to communities across the state,” said DHS Interim Secretary Karen Timberlake. “Our vaccine team and partners are committed to making the vaccine as accessible to everyone as possible. We urge everyone currently eligible to visit the DHS website to learn about how to schedule an appointment. And please remember that whether you are insured or not, the vaccine is free to everyone.”

For more information on where to get vaccinated, visit https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-get.htm or https://vaccinefinder.org.

There is also a vaccine provider map on the DHS website, or people can call DHS’s vaccine hotline at 1-844-684-1064.

Gov. Tony Evers announced on March 29 that more than one million people in Wisconsin have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series, and are fully vaccinated.

“We’re happy to see folks in Wisconsin doing their part and getting vaccinated when it is their turn,” said Gov. Evers. “Keep up the good work, and we’ll be back to our Wisconsin way of life before you know it.”

Wisconsin received its first vaccine in mid-December.

More than one in two adults ages 65 and older have been fully vaccinated, with nearly three in four having received their first dose.

On March 25, DHS confirmed a third variant strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in Wisconsin.

The newest variant, a statement from DHS said this week, was discovered in travelers from Brazil who were tested in Tokyo Japan in January.

“DHS continues to monitor for new SARS-CoV-2 variants in collaboration with our laboratory partners,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard. “Because these new variants of concern may spread more easily than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, it is important to get vaccinated when you are able. Vaccines, along with our other public health practices, give the virus less of an opportunity to spread and mutate.”

The statement said that research so far shows that vaccines do protect against variants of the disease, but that is continuing to be investigated.

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