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WI DHS reports progress with vaccines, say weekly supply must ramp up to reach herd immunity by fall

Posted at 10:37 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 23:38:36-05

While the number of daily COVID-19 vaccinations has grown in Wisconsin, state health officials say to reach the desired herd immunity by fall the weekly supply coming in needs to double or triple.

Currently, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said the state receives about 70,000 doses from the federal government every week.

Willems Van Dijk said about 105,000 people have gotten a vaccine so far and aside from that about 5,000 completed their two-dose series.

Despite some frustration over the rollout taking too long, she insisted there is progress in these first few weeks.

Wisconsin is currently in Phase 1A, focused on health care workers and people in nursing homes.

"Everyone in Wisconsin who wants one, will be able to get a vaccine, but it will take time," said Willems Van Dijk.

DHS reported says the number of vaccinators jumped from 108 in mid-December to more than 1,066 as of January 5, and daily vaccinations are also growing.

On Monday, DHS said 6,000 first doses were administered. On Tuesday there were 8,000. On Wednesday, the agency said there were 11,600 first doses.

Officials expect bigger shipments of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the coming months as manufacturing ramps up. However, more supply is core to picking up the pace.

"To really get us through a higher throughput of people through these phases we're going to need new vaccine, additional vaccine," said Willems Van Dijk. She added a big piece is the success of other vaccines going through trials.

"No side effects. I’m kind of relieved now I have that second vaccine," said Jill Polzin, a registered nurse at Froedtert Hospital.

Polzin has spent more than 30 years as a registered nurse at Froedtert Hospital. After getting her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday morning she remained focused on the cancer patients she serves.

"I feel grateful to have gotten the vaccine to be able to offer them the confidence that we’re doing whatever we can to keep them protected by making ourselves as healthy as possible," said Polzin.

Now, she said she looks forward to the day when work feels a little more normal.

"Because it is a caring and compassionate field it will be nice to be able to be able to touch patients again provide a hug when needed, things like that," said Polzin.

DHS expects to complete vaccinations at half of the state's 356 nursing homes this week.

They will start at assisted living facilities the week of Jan. 25.

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