Wisconsin health experts weigh in on rollout for boosters, believe it will be smoother than initial vaccines

Posted at 5:16 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 23:45:19-04

MILWAUKEE — It is too soon to say what exactly a booster shot rollout will look like in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, but some health professionals believe it will be less complex than the initial vaccine distribution, as long as shots are available.

"It wouldn't necessarily mean that others have to wait. It might just be a matter of, you know, if there's adequate supply in the pharmacy network, for instance, that anyone who meets eligibility can go and get it," Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director for infection prevention at UW Health said.

Dr. Safdar said health officials will need to redeploy infrastructure and sort out who is eligible, adding that eligibility may rely more on when someone completed their vaccine series, rather than say their job position.

People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are already eligible for an additional dose.

Data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services showed more than 5.7 million Wisconsinites received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. Neither the boosters shots nor additional doses for people with compromised immune systems apply to those who got the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at this point, but that may change when more data becomes available.

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Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the city is beginning conversations on what a rollout for boosters could look like, adding they have used the Wisconsin Center and the city's two health centers effectively.

"We want to make sure that we have a capacity and we will have the capacity when the kick-off date again, last I saw Sept. 20," Mayor Barrett said.

"We are thankful for the fact that the ease of getting these shots in as needed has been established. So now we have a better flow of vaccine supplies," said Benjamin Ezekiel, director of pharmacy at Life Tree Pharmacy in Milwaukee.

Ezekiel said they are prepared for a potential rush, but he expects another challenge in the community he serves.

"In the predominantly Black community in Milwaukee, we still have a lot of work to do. Some are still coming yesterday and today to get their first shots. They're still doing that, so those convincing them about the booster shots will take a little bit of work, but we are ready for that," Ezekiel said.

According to DHS, more than 50 percent of Wisconsinites completed their vaccine series. In Milwaukee County, that number sits near 47 percent.

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