Good news may be coming for a large number of Wisconsin residents this week as state health officials prepare to announce who will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the 1C phase.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk indicated during a press briefing last Friday that they are planning to release information about who will be included in the Phase 1C group sometime this week.
"It sounds like a fairly simple group, right? People age 16-64 with pre-existing conditions. But part of the decision-making is thinking about which preexisting conditions, and really using the CDC's research to look at where the strongest evidence is about which conditions contribute to COVID-19," said Willems Van Dijk on the call.
About 2 million Wisconsin residents could become eligible for the vaccine in the 1C phase - the largest expansion of vaccine-eligible people since the state began receiving doses of the vaccine.
The CDC's guideline on who should be included in Phase 1C is detailed. Generally, the industries recommended are essential workers not included in the 1A or 1B phases.
Broad industries include various modes of transportation, taxi services, warehouses, restaurants, gas stations, utilities, construction and real estate, telecom, computers, news, waste management, courts and legal counsel, libraries and religious groups, among dozens of other industries.
As Willems Van Dijk said during the call, their priority is including people in 1C who are susceptible to the virus because of pre-existing conditions.
The call of who is in the 1C group is up to Wisconsin health officials. As outlined in the Department of Homeland Securitys' COVID-19 advisory memorandum last December, the federal government is serving in an advisory role during the vaccine rollout. States have the responsibility of deciding the order of who gets the vaccine.
Willems Van Dijk said at past briefings that people with underlying chronic health conditions could be included in the 1C group. The DHS decided to break with CDC guidance earlier this month when it chose not to prioritize people with chronic health conditions in the 1B phase.
Those eligible in the 1B phase include child care workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers and people enrolled in Medicaid's long-term care programs.
Milwaukee County meanwhile says it is working hard to get vaccine doses to those who are eligible and want one. You can view the latest information on that effort here.
Front line essential workers, people in Medicaid long-term care programs, and non-frontline essential health care employees who live or work in Milwaukee can now make appointments either online at milwaukee.gov/covidvax or by calling 414-286-6800.