MILWAUKEE — Monday marked the first day Wisconsinites in phase 1B of the state’s distribution plan could receive the vaccine.
Phase 1B starts with firefighters and police, but other essential workers are soon to follow. Grocery store workers are likely going to have to wait for the next phase which has Wisconsin’s Grocers Association baffled.
“We’re incredulous; we don’t know why,” said Wisconsin Grocers Association President Brandon Scholz.
Scholz said grocery store employees have been gearing up to get vaccinated any day now. The CDC recommended that frontline essential workers including grocers get the vaccine in phase 1B. Wisconsin entered that phase Monday yet grocers still aren’t eligible.
“At the most critical juncture of helping to stop the spread of making sure that we’re getting to the people where we’ll have some hope, the government is about to say sorry, you’re going to have to wait,” Scholz said.
Gov. Tony Evers decided phase 1B should start with firefighters and police. The state’s vaccination subcommittee recommends that the following groups should join them: People age 70 and older, educators, child care workers and mink farmers. The virus has been found to mutate among mink into new strains.
Wisconsin started vaccinating front line healthcare workers along with residents and employees of long term care facilities more than a month ago as part of phase 1A. Phase 1A will continue in tandem with phase 1B.
Scholz said as it stands now, grocers are slotted to receive the vaccine in phase 1C along with millions of Wisconsinites who are considered to be ‘other essential workers’ and those with underlying illnesses. Scholz believes grocery store employees deserve priority.
“Don’t throw essential workers who have given it their all, who at their own risk, are being told, sorry, you’re just going to have to wait and you know, we just don’t have the words for it,” he said.
The vaccine subcommittee meets to discuss phase 1B again on Wednesday. Those recommendations will ultimately go to the state’s Department of Health Services and Governor Evers for final approval.