COVID-19 vaccines opening to police and firefighters

The vaccinations can start next Monday.
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 1:41 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Police officers and firefighters across Wisconsin will soon be able to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Starting next week, the state will take the first step into the next phase – 1B – of its vaccine distribution plan, which starts in police and fire departments, the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services announced Monday.

DHS estimates there are about 30,000 police and fire personnel statewide, and the goal is to give all of them the opportunity to get vaccinated.

The expansion comes a little over a month after the vaccinations began with the 1A population, e.g. frontline health care workers and residents of long-term health care facilities. According to DHS numbers, approximately 150,000 doses have been delivered to the estimated 550,000 people in that first group.

“Our goal is to get vaccine to everyone in Wisconsin who wants it as quickly and safely as possible,” DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said. “Our systems are up and running, now we need more vaccine to get through as many Wisconsinites who want to protect themselves against COVID-19 as possible.”

DHS said Monday they are not ready to move forward fully with Phase 1B because the state does not have enough vaccines to do so. Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said Phase 1B has double the number of people as the first phase.

Van Dijk added DHS will continue following recommendations from the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) as they move through the next phases, including 1B.

“The reason we chose to move forward with a population is it’s one that seems fairly likely to be in [SDMAC’s] final recommendation, it has been in many, many other states across the nation,” Van Dijk said.

Palm went on to remind people that, even though the vaccines are rolling out, they should still be taking precautions such as social distancing and wearing masks.

Local health departments will take the lead in the new vaccination effort, working with health care systems and pharmacies to reach out to the police and fire departments, DHS explained. State officials will also coordinate with police and fire associations to make sure the vaccines reach every department.

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