Vaccine Update: More Than Ten Percent Fully Vaccinated; State Announces Next Priority Group; Third Vaccine Approved

As of Tuesday, March 9, Wisconsin had been allocated nearly 1.9 million COVID vaccine doses from the federal government. About 1.74 million vaccine doses have been administered, and more than 600,000 Wisconsin residents or 10.5 percent of the state’s population have completed the two-dose series. Over 60 percent of Wisconsinites aged 65 and older have received at least one dose.

On March 1, the state began vaccinating individuals in the Phase 1B priority group, with a focus on education and childcare staff first. According to the Department of Health Services (DHS), the following groups (Phase 1A and 1B) are now eligible for vaccination, in order of priority:

  • Frontline health care personnel
  • Residents of long-term care
  • Police and fire personnel, correctional staff
  • Adults age 65 and older
  • Education and childcare staff
  • Individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs
  • Some public-facing essential workers such as 911 operators, public transit, and grocery store employees
  • Non-frontline essential health care personnel
  • Facility staff and residents of congregate living settings

As of March 9, Wisconsin had administered more than 3.2 million tests for COVID-19 since early 2020. Of those tests, almost 567,000 were positive. About 6,500 people with COVID-19 have died in Wisconsin, representing about 1.1 percent of all cases. Since the beginning of 2021, the average percentage of positive tests out of total tests has been declining.

All vaccine and testing data are from DHS.

State Announces Next Priority Group; Launches Vaccine Registry and La Crosse Clinic

On Thursday, March 11, DHS announced which Wisconsin residents will become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the next priority group. DHS projects that individuals in this group will become eligible beginning March 29. The group, totaling about two million people, includes individuals with one or more specified medical conditions. These conditions include but are not limited to asthma, cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart conditions, liver disease, obesity, pregnancy, and diabetes. DHS projects that all Wisconsin residents aged 16 and older will become eligible sometime in May.

At the beginning of March, the state launched its online vaccine registry, which we first covered here. The website allows residents to check their eligibility and make an appointment with several participating providers. The state has also opened its second community-based vaccine clinic, this one in La Crosse County. The first community clinic opened in Rock County in February, while three more sites in Racine, Marathon, and Douglas/Barron counties are expected to open by April.

Single-Dose Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Approved; Wisconsin Gets 47,000 Doses

On March 1, DHS announced that Wisconsin was set to receive an initial allocation of 47,000 doses of a new vaccine for COVID-19. The single-dose vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson, is the third COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the vaccine for public distribution on February 27. Compared to the existing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which both require a two-dose series, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has simpler storage requirements and can be safely refrigerated for up to three months.