30 States Plan to Open General Vaccine Eligibility Early. Wisconsin Is Still Thinking About It.



By Jonathon Sadowski

March 25, 2021

Lack of supply from the federal government remains an issue, the deputy health secretary says.

The state Department of Health Services (DHS) is making no promises that COVID-19 vaccinations will be available to the general population before May 1, the deadline set by President Joe Biden, though the department isn’t ruling out the possibility if vaccine supply continues to increase.

“Once we feel confident in the supply of vaccine that we’re receiving, and the pacing of [vaccinations], we will make a decision and we will announce,” Deputy DHS Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said during a Thursday call with reporters.

Thirty other states have announced they will open vaccinations up to the general adult population ahead of the deadline, according to a New York Times tally. Some—such as Utah, Alaska, and Arizona—have already made all adults eligible, according to the report.

Wisconsin made more than 2 million residents with pre-existing health conditions eligible this week ahead of schedule, but it appears a low supply could hinder opening eligibility to all adults early. Further stretching demand, the state is still working to finish vaccinations on earlier groups, such as people 65 and older; 52.2% of seniors have completed their vaccine series, according to DHS data.

RELATED: One Year Later, COVID-19 Deaths Leave Holes Across Wisconsin

Vaccine providers in the state are currently requesting 400,000 to 500,000 first doses per week, but DHS is only receiving about 190,000 weekly, Willems Van Dijk said.

Still, Wisconsin’s vaccine process has been going smoothly when the supply is there. The state is fifth in the nation when it comes to using delivered doses, according to a New York Times tracker.

More than 2.5 million doses have been administered in Wisconsin as of Thursday, 27.3% of residents have received at least one dose, and 15.8% of the state is fully vaccinated, according to DHS data

While the numbers are positive, Willems Van Dijk implored Wisconsinites to tough it out a little longer and cautioned against families traveling for spring break. She said the possibility of introducing more cases of highly contagious COVID-19 variants into the state would set Wisconsin’s efforts back. 

“We need to get these vaccine levels up a little higher before we risk bringing further disease into our state that will increase risk for those not yet vaccinated,” Willems Van Dijk said.

Biden on Thursday set a goal for the nation to have administered 200 million doses of vaccine by April 30, his 100th day in office. He had previously targeted 100 million doses by that date, but the US passed that number last week, on his 58th day in office.



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