MILWAUKEE — Federal health officials have announced making changes to guidelines for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
The shift in recommendations included urging states to expand vaccine access to everyone who is 65 and older as well as to people under 65 with comorbidities. The Trump administration also announced it would release millions of vaccines that were in reserve for second doses. Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require a two-dose series for the most protection against the virus.
As Wisconsin continues to vaccinate Group 1A, which includes healthcare workers and people in long-term care facilities, there has been a consistent plea to the federal government for more vaccines.
On Monday, Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services called on federal authorities for a larger weekly allotment, adding that this week for the first time the demand for vaccine exceeded the state's supply.
Currently, it is unclear how much of an increase in vaccine Wisconsin could see and how often that increase would occur.
DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm released a statement saying:
“We are excited that Wisconsin will be allocated additional COVID-19 vaccine by the federal government. Our goal, alongside our partners in health care, pharmacies and local public health is to vaccinate as many Wisconsinites as quickly and safely as possible. We know we cannot do this alone and our partners are up to this task. We call on them to help us achieve our collective goal and vaccinate every Wisconsinite who wants a vaccine."
“This increase in weekly allocation will allow us to expand eligibility and get more vaccines into arms more quickly. For new populations who become eligible, we want you to know there will be many options, such as your doctor or health center, your pharmacy or a community vaccination site. We have worked hard to build up our system and we stand ready with nearly 1,200 COVID-19 vaccinating entities throughout the state."
“We are committed to following the science and recommend all Wisconsinites who receive a vaccine complete the series of 2 doses. From the robust clinical trials we know both of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective after two doses."
“This is an incredibly large effort but we are all up to the task if we work together. We urge patience and civility as you wait your turn for vaccine and please continue to wear masks, wash hands and socially distance.”
"I would imagine as a county and public health we’ll look to that for guidance moving forward," said Dr. Ben Weston, Director of Medical Services with Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management. "I think there's been well thought through guidance on how that should work but certainly our older populations are suffering a lot."
John Sauer, President and CEO of LeadingAge Wisconsin an association of non-profit long-term care providers, supports ramping up the vaccine rollout but has some concern.
"The fear of the unknown. Will the manufacturers be able to keep up with supply to make sure that the second dose is widely available? But the more vaccines we have it’s just more opportunity to get the shots in the arms of the people who need them," said Sauer.