MILWAUKEE — While some are happy to be added to the expanded list of people eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, others are disappointed. Wisconsin’s Vaccine Subcommittee added several groups to the 1b group of vaccine recipients, the next group to start.
One of the groups added is Hunger Relief organizations like Hunger Task Force. Working with only a fraction of their staff and no volunteers, Executive Director Sherrie Tussler says the organization has delivered 13 million pounds of food with only 15 people this year.
Moving their workers into the 1b group will allow them to expand their help.
“It’s important to recognize that the food banks and the food pantries, the homeless shelters and the soup kitchens have been essential workers during the entire course of the pandemic," Tussler says. "We’ve all been at risk. We’ve been doing everything in our power to be safe, now that the vaccine is available it just makes good sense to make sure that we are safe as well.”
Not added to the 1b list as of yet are those under 65 with preexisting medical conditions including cancer. 55-year-old Bert Zenkar has been dealing with pancreatic cancer for the last year. After chemotherapy, radiation and surgery for cancer, Zenkar and many like him have compromised immune systems.
“With my immune system it’s dangerous to get COVID, so I’ve been incredibly careful about that," said Zenkar.
Zenkar and his wife have been socially distancing from others, wearing masks and taking all the other recommended precautions against COVID-19. The vaccine would mean he and his wife would have the opportunity to feel more confident in his health.
“With the vaccine, there’s an opportunity to return to a more normal lifestyle. Doesn’t seem like it’s 1b by any means but if it was 1c that would be terrific,” Zenkar said.
The state’s vaccine subcommittee said they received 5,000 letters with opinions on who should and should not be bumped up to get the vaccine. The committee meets regularly and their recommendations are passed on to Gov. Evers’ Administration.