The state reached a major milestone earlier this week when it opened up coronavirus vaccination eligibility to anyone age 16 and older. This comes about one month earlier than initially anticipated. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) credits a steady increase in vaccine supply for the opportunity to open up the eligibility.
“I know this past year hasn’t been easy for anyone, and I want to express my appreciation to all Wisconsinites who are making sacrifices such as staying home, wearing a mask, and keeping six feet from others,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “These actions are backed by science. They help to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. And today, we are excited to give everyone 16 and older the opportunity to continue protecting themselves and their loved ones from this virus. It will take patience, but we encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”
To find a vaccination site, visit https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-map.htm or https://vaccinefinder.org. More information about the COVID-19 vaccine can call the toll-free number 844-684-1064. Those seeking vaccines are reminded that only the Pfizer-manufactured shots are approved for ages 16 and 17.
According to the DHS COVID-19 dashboard, as of April 6 the state is closing in on the 2 million mark of the number of residents who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Additionally, 1,185,478 Wisconsin residents have completed the vaccine series, including 63.8% of people ages 65 and older.
Data shows 25.4% of all Dane County residents and 20.1% of all Jefferson County residents have been completely vaccinated.
The dashboard indicates a seven-day average of 48,333 vaccine doses per day.
“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,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a release. “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.”
DHS said the demand for vaccines still outweighs the eligible supply. However, the state is hoping to meet that demand through a variety of measures. On Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers announced Madison’s COVID-19 mass vaccination site at the Alliant Energy Center would receive federal support starting April 7. The U.S. Department Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 5 will coordinate with state and local partners to provide federal staff and support services to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.
The state has committed to providing 7,000 weekly first-dose vaccines at the site with the capacity to vaccinate 1,400 people per day. As part of the FEMA support, the Madison site will receive 26 additional staff from the federal government to support the clinic.
Beginning April 6, the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee started serving as a federal pilot community vaccination clinic through FEMA. It received resources and staffing to administer 3,000 vaccinations per day, with the supply coming directly from the federal government.
The DHS is encouraging vaccine providers to continue prioritizing anyone previously eligible under tiers 1a, 1b and 1c such as health care professionals, public-facing essential workers and people with medical conditions.
“We have built-up a strong network of vaccine providers across the state. Every community is different, some providers may have openings and others may have waitlists but I assure you that anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one in the coming weeks,” said Timberlake. “We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to reach 80% community immunity in Wisconsin.”
The DHS continues to recommend all people – regardless of vaccination status — practice mitigation measures such as wearing masks and staying physically distanced in public spaces.