Questions Remain As Everyone 16+ Becomes Vaccine Eligible In Wisconsin
Starting Monday, April 5, all Wisconsin residents age 16 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Questions remain about how many people will be trying to get vaccinated and whether the state's health care system is ready for everyone who wants to come in for a shot.
Greenfield Health Director Darren Rausch said one issue continues to be vaccine supply. He said Wisconsin now receives about a quarter-million doses per week, up from 100,000 one month ago.
"But that still is limiting because we know there's now a large chunk of the population that's now eligible. And so, we need to let vaccine come into the community, and we need to get it out and into arms as quickly as possible. I continue to urge patience for anybody who's looking for a vaccine," Rausch told news reporters last Thursday.
Rausch said if your local health department is short on vaccine, it may be able to refer you to nearby pharmacies, community vaccination sites like the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee or health care clinics.
Dr. Smriti Khare of Children's Hospital of Wisconsin also recommended patience. "You know, could we have lines? That just means lots of people want the vaccine. That's a good thing, too," Khare told the news media.
Khare emphasized for now, the Pfizer brand vaccine is the only one approved for children as young as 16. "So, as families are looking for places to receive the vaccine, they should be asking the question that Pfizer is the vaccine available," she said.
Khare said Children's Hospital has only been vaccinating kids on its main campus in Wauwatosa because that's where physicians also see young patients with other health care needs. But she said the hospital will have some community sites available as soon as possible.
In the city of Milwaukee, Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson also promised to open additional vaccination sites. She said as the federal agency FEMA has sent more workers to the Wisconsin Center, local health employees have been reassigned to community sites. Johnson said the city has room for more vaccinations at North and South Division high schools.
The pool of eligible vaccine recipients dramatically expands, as the state of Wisconsin reports one-third of authorized residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and one-fifth have completed the vaccine series.
That's still far short of the state's herd immunity goal of 80%. Greenfield's Rausch said he still wants to get as close to 80% as possible.
"With COVID not being a disease that we're familiar with, we hope that target's 80. But it's possible it could be 85. It's also possible we could have significant disease transmission reduction with vaccination at 70 or 75%," he said.
The state said its latest seven day average shows about 54,000 people a day are getting vaccinated.