For those individuals 65 and older, who want to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, local and state health officials are asking for patience.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported Tuesday people 65 and older were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday, Jan. 25.

“We have approximately 700,00 seniors in Wisconsin, and are only receiving 70,000 first doses of the vaccine weekly,” Gov. Tony Evers said Jan. 21. “We are getting started with the supplies we have now, but to get through 700,000 people will take time. This is the largest vaccine rollout in the state’s history.”

Jefferson County Health Officer Gail Scott agreed.

Scott said people need to email the health department at vaccine@jeffersoncountywi.gov to register for COVID-19 vaccinations.

She said that is the “preferred method,” but the Jefferson County Health Department can also take calls, but she said they are receiving hundreds of phone calls.

“For now, we can vaccinate quite a few people at our current site,” Scott said. “So if people are in category 1a, which include unaffiliated healthcare providers, fire and police personnel that interact with the public, corrections personnel and adults 65 and older, they can contact us. People have to be patient with our county partners such as health care and pharmacies to do this as efficiently as we can.”

Julie Williems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the state Department of Health Services, on Jan. 21 said it’s going to take time to roll the vaccines out.

“We need to be patient,” Williems Van Dijk said. “The doctors and pharmacies will get the vaccines, if individuals request it.”

She said there are more than 1,300 vaccinators in the state, who are working to make sure the process goes as smooth as possible.

“If individuals are calling their health departments and not getting through to them we are asking the individuals to wait a week or two and call again,” Willems Van Dijk said.

She said as of Wednesday 285,385 vaccines were administered and 22,072 vaccinations were given in the last 24 hours. She said 51,893 of the 285,358 vaccinations were second doses so those individuals completed the process and are fully protected.

“I know people are interested in getting the vaccine, but clinics are limited by vaccine availability,” Evers said. “The process is going faster than it began, but, ultimately, it will take time.”

He said it falls on the federal government if there is not enough vaccinations available to the public.

“We do not create the vaccines,” Evers said. “That’s the federal government. To do more vaccinations we need more vaccines. The number of the vaccines lies solely with the federal government.”

Watertown Public Health Officer Carol Quest said immunization clinics are also tethered by vaccine availability.

“We schedule clinics for the priority groups as the vaccine becomes available,” Quest said.

Seniors in Jefferson County can call their health department at 920-674-7275 to register. Dane County residents should contact their health care provider or complete the survey at https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/6162331/COVID-Vaccine-Tier-1b-65-and-older to be matched with a vaccine provider. 

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