Drawn doses of vaccine
Pre-drawn doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine sit in a freezer Feb. 4 at Progressive Community Health Centers in Milwaukee. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)

Milwaukee and Madison could also become federal vaccination sites.

Some Wisconsinites will be able to schedule vaccine appointments or be put on a waiting list in a new web portal scheduled to launch March 1, the Department of Health Services announced Thursday.

The portal, called the Wisconsin COVID-19 Vaccine Registry, will have a test launch on Monday (Feb. 22) with the Racine, Green, Marathon, Oneida, Dane, Rock, St. Croix, and Waukesha County health departments, in addition to the city health departments in Menasha and Wauwatosa. It will then begin a wider rollout on March 1. DHS said “all interested vaccinators” will be able to participate by April 1.

“This registry will be vital in our effort to get all Wisconsinites access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement. “It will make it easier for the public to get vaccinated, and assist vaccinators in tracking available supply. It is important to remember that the vaccine supply in Wisconsin is extremely limited and that most people will not be able to get appointments to be vaccinated right away.”

The portal will be able to send appointment reminders and monitor post-vaccine side effects, DHS said. Anyone without an internet connection will be able to call a hotline to schedule an appointment.

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DHS announced the portal, developed by Microsoft, in a briefing late last month. It was originally planned to launch the week of Feb. 15.

The federal government could also be directly joining vaccination efforts in Wisconsin. WISN-TV reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is exploring Milwaukee and Madison as possible locations for federal vaccination sites.

FEMA is establishing vaccine sites throughout the country that would provide immunizations directly from the federal government, meaning any shots given would be in addition to what state and local health departments are already receiving from the national stockpile. Depending on their size, the sites are designed to give between 250 and 6,000 shots per day, according to FEMA’s website

The agency is currently in the process of launching vaccine sites in pilot communities. Deputy Department of Health Services Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk told WISN that FEMA is considering Milwaukee as a potential site, and there are “planning and exploration calls going on about that.” 

FEMA representatives are also reportedly in talks with officials in Dane County to potentially create a federal vaccine site in Madison’s Alliant Energy Center, which has been used as a community COVID-19 testing site throughout the pandemic. It was also designated as a COVID treatment overflow site in case hospitals reached capacity, but the Department of Health Services has not had to use it for that purpose.