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More vaccine doses arriving in Wisconsin, mass vaccination sites set to open

According to DHS, the state received about 60 percent more doses in the last week of February than in mid-January.
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:41 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin is seeing a jump in its allocation of vaccine doses, a trend that the state’s Department of Health Services expects to continue for at least two weeks.

In the last week of February, the state received 115,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to distribute. According to DHS, that number is 64 percent higher than the state received in mid-January.

“The other thing is what we’ve heard from the White House and the CDC is, we’re not going to see vaccine supply go down,” DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said.

In addition to the state’s allocation, Walgreens locations in Wisconsin received double the amount of doses than the previous week through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

“We’ve gone from zero doses going to Walgreens to nearly 36,000 doses going to Walgreens. These are significant increases in vaccine that are coming into our state,” Van Dijk explained.

DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk discusses vaccine research on Tuesday, November 17,...
DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk discusses vaccine research on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.(WMTV)

She added this jump is still not enough to fill the requests for vaccines statewide, but it is a major step in the right direction. The influx is due largely to a pledge from Pfizer and Moderna. The two companies are promising 220 million doses by the end of March.

Meanwhile, the FDA will start reviewing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on February 28. If the vaccine receives emergency use authorization, the company has pledged 20 million doses by late March. DHS said approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would significantly speed up the roll out.

DHS and Governor Tony Evers are also working to expand the number of community vaccination clinics to reach more people. On Tuesday, the governor and DHS announced four new clinic locations in La Crosse, Racine and Marathon counties, and the last split between Douglas and Barron counties.

The new clinics would make five statewide; the first community-based site opened in Janesville on February 16. The new clinics are expected to open in the next two months, starting with an allocation of 200 doses per day. That allocation will go up as vaccine supply increases.

These four sites are not the only mass vaccination clinics DHS is planning. The agency said Tuesday they are in conversations with FEMA about opening a site in Milwaukee County.

“One of the big advantages for the Milwaukee area would be not only additional resources coming into the community, but then the resources that Milwaukee has been using to provide vaccinations at the Wisconsin Center can be redeployed throughout the city,” Van Dijk said.

Van Dijk said DHS is hoping FEMA would bring their own allocation of vaccines to that site, but right now, the doses would have to come from the state.

The next groups of people will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on March 1. DHS said they plan to move forward with that start date, prioritizing teachers and childcare workers.

The agency said they set a goal of vaccinating half of the population of 65 and older by the beginning of March. As of Tuesday, about 47 percent have received their first dose. With that goal in sight, the vaccine can be expanded to other essential workers.

While teachers and childcare providers are first in line, other essential workers will start getting their shot once more people 65 and older get vaccinated.

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