Wis. doctor, public health officials discuss distribution with COVID-19 vaccine likely available soon

Posted at 11:31 AM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 14:42:51-05

MILWAUKEE — The State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee's vaccine subcommittee met Tuesday morning to continue discussions about the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine in Wisconsin.

The team of doctors and public health officials is tasked with providing advice to the immunization program for the State of Wisconsin on how to best allocate a COVID-19 vaccine, understanding that there will likely be more need for a vaccine than vaccine available in the months ahead.

The discussion comes as three major pharmaceutical companies announce progress in vaccine development.

Dr. Jon Temte, who co-chairs the vaccine distribution subcommittee says a vaccine could be ready to go in less than three weeks.

"We're being told that it could be as soon as Dec. 11 or thereabouts," said Temte, while discussing the groups' top priority of fairly and ethically distributing the vaccine, once it's available, to the state's more than 400,000 healthcare workers.

"These are people who are putting their lives at risk on a daily basis and were also really concerned that hospitals and other entities are going to lose the ability to continue to provide excellent care across the state," said Temte.

He said the subcommittee is tasked with coming up with an allocation that is fair amidst a coronavirus outbreak that is currently intensely impacting nearly every part of the state.

"We have to consider where our areas of greatest need are, what areas or hospitals are in a crisis situation due to losing additional personnel, where have there been traditional disparities, and where are areas where we’ve seen more cases," said Temte.

The group is now considering recommending the use of a lottery system to allocate the vaccines to different healthcare organizations.

The next step is for the subcommittee to draft up some guidance to share with the state's Department of Health Services. But, Dr. Tempte says all of the talks happening now are preliminary and that no distribution plans or advice will be made final without the public having a chance to review the guidance and weigh in.

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