Millions with preexisting conditions now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Wisconsin health system: Worker deliberately spoiled vaccine (AP)
Wisconsin health system: Worker deliberately spoiled vaccine (AP)(AP)
Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 8:18 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Millions of people in Wisconsin are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine for the first time.

Individuals over 16 years-old with certain preexisting medical conditions became eligible Monday, after the original March 29 date was moved up a week.

“Moving up eligibility for this critical group will help us get over the finish line and sooner, and get us back to our Wisconsin way of life,” Gov. Evers stated. He used the opportunity to compliment the vaccinators across the state for placing Wisconsin among the nation’s leaders for delivering its supply of the vaccines to patients.

The state still plans to open eligibility to everyone over 16 years-old on May 1, Evers added, explaining that DHS is tracking vaccination coverage statewide and will likely provide an updated timeline as May approaches.

DHS’ list of preexisting conditions that will allow someone to receive the coronavirus vaccine includes:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cancer
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Liver disease
  • Neurologic conditions, such as intellectual disabilities and dementia
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30-39 kg/m2)
  • Overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2 or more)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)

Three of the categories on the list are based on a person’s Body Mass Index, which can be determined using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention BMI calculator available here.

Newly qualifying individuals have several options for scheduling a vaccine appointment, the governor’s office explained. They may contact community-based clinics, health care providers, local and tribal health departments, and pharmacies. Additionally, many health care providers may reach out to those who now qualify.

Among those for whom the vaccine is already available are:

  • Frontline health care personnel
  • Residents and staff in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities
  • Police and fire personnel, correctional staff
  • Age 65 and older
  • Educators and Child care
  • Individuals enrolled in Medicaid Long-term care programs
  • Some public facing essential workers
  • Non-frontline essential health care personnel
  • Staff and residents in congregate living facilities

More information about receiving the vaccine or eligibility is available by calling 1-844-684-1064 or by going to DHS’ COVID-19 vaccine options page.

Other groups have been added to the eligibility rolls, as well, since the last time eligibility expanded. Those include clergy and restaurant workers. Also, the definition of people involved in public safety expanded to include judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and other essential court personnel.

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