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Assembly Republicans want public to have vaccine by March, Gov. Tony Evers says not possible until summer

The bill is unlikely to become law
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 1:38 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (AP)— The chairman of the Wisconsin Assembly Health Committee is proposing that the COVID-19 vaccine be available to the general public by mid-March, rather than June as state health officials estimate.

The proposal comes after criticism from Republican lawmakers about distribution of the vaccine from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration.

Security remained on high alert outside the state Capitol, but inside business as usual as the assembly health committee held a public hearing to discuss distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine.   

“We think what we’re doing is giving the Evers’ administration some direction on exactly what we expect,” Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, District 15 republican said.

Rep. Sanfelippo chairs the committee.

“What we’re doing is we’re saying that we want to speed up the process, we want to safely vaccinate as many people as fast as we can and we want to prioritize on who’s most at risk,” he said.

Gov. Evers and the state’s health leaders have defended the rollout, saying the speed of vaccinations is limited by the number of doses sent by the federal government.

On Tuesday, state health officials reinforced the challenges facing the state as the rollout pushes on.  

“Covid-19 vaccination is the most significant public health undertaking of our lifetimes and we have built the system to make it possible, but we cant vaccinate everyone all at once and we cant vaccinate without enough vaccine,” Julie Willems Van Dijk, DHS deputy secretary said Tuesday in a press conference.

Last Monday, Gov. Tony Evers sent his concerns to the White House. He wrote a letter requesting more covid-19 dosages for the state. Evers said the general public probably won’t have access to the shot until summer.   

Mary Hayney, UW-Madison pharmacy professor, explained with a vaccine rollout of this magnitude, patience is key.

“As far as vaccine rollouts in the past, there is no good comparison where we have to do this on such a large scale,” Hayney said.

She said there’s a lot of moving parts in distributing a vaccine globally, so it’s difficult to plan ahead.   

“I don’t think there’s a way to predict exactly when you know any one person in Wisconsin will get immunized,” she said.

She said in this case patience is a virtue, but everyone will get their shot at the vaccine.   

“We’ll get the vaccine to as many people as we can, as soon as we can,” she said.

The bill is unlikely to become law. It has to pass the Senate and Assembly, and be signed by Evers.

NBC15 reached out to Gov. Tony Evers’ administration and Wisconsin department of health for comment, but have not heard back.

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