GOP panel grills Evers’ administration over vaccine pace

The Assembly’s health committee held a hearing Thursday to investigate why vaccinations have been moving slowly.
Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 1:43 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2021 at 6:55 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (AP/WMTV) — Assembly Republicans are grilling Wisconsin health officials about why they can’t speed up COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Assembly’s health committee held a hearing Thursday to investigate why vaccinations have been moving slowly.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, says it’s unacceptable that the general public has to wait until summer for shots. He demanded to know how Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration can speed up administering doses.

State Department of Health Services Assistant Deputy Secretary Lisa Olson says the pace is dictated by how much vaccine the federal government allocates to the state and it takes time to decide how to prioritize recipients.

“I want to be clear the supply chain is not within Wisconsin’s control,” Olson said.

Olson said they receive doses on a weekly basis, making it hard to plan ahead.

The federal government currently has 607,650 doses allocated to Wisconsin. As of Thursday, only about 373,00 vaccines had been shipped, with 195,000 administered.

“Based on the allocations we are receiving, we will be looking at a late Spring, Early summer timeline for the general public,” Olson said.

The state is still in the first phase of vaccinations, which began in mid-December. Next week, an advisory committee is set to present the recommendations for who is up next to get the shot.

Olson said 1,200 vaccinators are enrolled in the state and many are still waiting to get vaccines because they do not have enough doses.

The Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin’s vice president of affairs, Danielle Womack, testified at the hearing many pharmacies have the capacity to help, but cannot get their hands on any vaccines. Womack said the state needs to quickly move to the next phase so communities can start distributing the vaccines.

“Activating Phase 1b is not about letting people jump the line, it’s about making more access points available by providing an opportunity for pharmacies to scale this to the populations and communities they serve,” she said.

Olson said they are working with the supplies they are given.

“We want to make sure we are in a position where we are not creating more demand than we have supply,” she said.

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