DHS Announces Next Priority Groups for COVID-19 Vaccination

On Tuesday, January 26, the Department of Health Services (DHS) announced which groups of Wisconsinites will be eligible for the next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations. As we reported a few weeks ago, the vaccine subcommittee of the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) was soliciting public comments and formulating recommendations to the administration on who should be included in the second phase, Phase 1B.

The first phase of vaccinations, Phase 1A, is still active and includes frontline healthcare workers and the residents and staff of nursing home and long-term care facilities. Before the SDMAC finalized its recommendations for Phase 1B, DHS announced the state will begin vaccinating law enforcement officers, firefighters, and correctional personnel. Then, on Monday, January 25, all adults age 65 and older (totaling about 700,000 Wisconsin residents) became eligible for vaccinations.

The remaining individuals included in Phase 1B, who will become eligible for vaccinations next, include:

  • Educators and childcare staff
  • Participants in Family Care, IRIS, and Children’s Long-Term Support programs
  • 911 emergency operators
  • Utility, communications infrastructure, and public transit workers
  • Food supply chain personnel, including agricultural and retail food workers
  • Non-frontline healthcare personnel, including those involved in public health, emergency management, maintenance and cleaning, and supply chain functions such as vaccine production and distribution
  • Staff and residents of congregate living facilities, including:
    • Employer-based housing
    • Elderly and disabled housing
    • Shelters and transitional housing
    • Incarcerated individuals

DHS estimates that these groups, totaling around 600,000 people, will be able to receive a vaccine beginning March 1, depending on the availability of vaccines from the federal government. The federal government allocates vaccine doses to the states on a weekly basis. Wisconsin currently receives about 70,000 doses per week.

Earlier this week, DHS reported that Wisconsin had administered 389,340 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, and that more than 74,000 people had completed the two-dose series. The federal government has allocated roughly 846,000 doses to Wisconsin, of which 641,150 have been ordered by vaccinating entities and 167,850 are in transit to vaccinating entities in the state.

DHS has plans to set up “community-based” vaccination sites around the state where large numbers of individuals can be vaccinated. DHS plans to have the first site operating in early February. The agency has contracted with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare to set up and administer these sites.

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