MADISON, Wis. — People ages 16 and older with certain medical conditions will now be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine one week earlier.
Gov. Tony Evers' office said Tuesday that the eligibility date would be moved from March 29 to March 22, due to the availability of vaccine supply and vaccine appointments.
“Our vaccinators across the state are doing great work to get folks vaccinated and get this done, and because of their good work, Wisconsin continues to be a national leader in getting shots in arms,” said Gov. Evers. “Moving up eligibility for this critical group will help us get over the finish line and sooner, and get us back to our Wisconsin way of life.”
The medical conditions for those eligible are as follows:
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Down syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
- Liver disease
- Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30-39 kg/m2)
- Overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2)
- Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
- Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2 or more)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
- Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
Gov. Tony Evers said Wisconsin is preparing to turn the corner on the pandemic by massively expanding who’s eligible to get vaccinated.
“We are ready to kick this pandemic to the curb and we are in a great position to do it,” Evers said.
The list of medical conditions included in phase 1C of the state’s distribution plan is exhaustive. Anyone 16 and older with asthma, cancer, down syndrome, heart and lung conditions and many more qualify.
“It means a little bit of freedom,” said Elodie Ontala of Milwaukee.
Ontala was ecstatic to learn people like her who live with Sickle cell disease will be able to get the shot soon.
“It’s a little bit less scary knowing that the vaccine will add a layer of protection for someone like me who spent the last year inside,” she said.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects 100,000 African-Americans in the United States. Ontala said she struggles with pain every day due to her illness.
“Because I already don’t have the oxygen in my body, I don’t have the strength in my body to fight something like the coronavirus,” she said.
Women who are pregnant and people who are considered overweight will also be eligible starting on March 29.
DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said people who qualify won’t need to provide proof of their medical condition to their vaccinator.
“Some vaccinators may take people at their word, others may want them to sign some simple form that attests that 'yes, I am a person who has one of these conditions,'” she said.
While DHS is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for the qualifying medical conditions, the state is going against CDC advice for the rest of phase 1C.
The CDC recommends ‘other essential workers’ such as restaurant, gas station, construction workers and many more industries be included. Willems Van Dijk said those workers will have to wait until May when the vaccine is expected to be available to everyone 16 and older.
“We still don’t have 5.8 million vaccines or even 4.6 million vaccines which is all the adults. So we still need to do a balancing of people most at risk with vaccine supply,” she said.
Those eligible currently in the 1B phase include teachers, child care workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers and people enrolled in Medicaid's long-term care programs.
Milwaukee County meanwhile says it is working hard to get vaccine doses to those who are eligible and want one. You can view the latest information on that effort here.
Front line essential workers, people in Medicaid long-term care programs, and non-frontline essential health care employees who live or work in Milwaukee can now make appointments either online at milwaukee.gov/covidvax or by calling 414-286-6800.