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Wisconsin vaccinators swamped with inquiries

Posted at 5:59 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 19:44:07-05

MILWAUKEE — Vaccinators across the state say they’re getting an overwhelming number of requests from people age 65 and older to schedule appointments.

The state’s health department said they’re working with Microsoft to build an online vaccine registry, but until that’s ready, DHS is depending on hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and local health departments to come up with their own strategies to vaccinate those who are eligible.

The owner of North Shore Pharmacy in Shorewood said their phones have been ringing nonstop with inquiries ever since the state announced people 65 and older can start getting vaccinated next week. A committee that’s advising DHS recommended that another 900,000 people join phase 1-B.

“Just because you’re eligible to get it doesn’t mean you will get it for any period of time here coming up unless something drastically changes with the allocation strategy,” said North Shore Pharmacy owner Kyle Beyer.

Beyer said Thursday that he still doesn’t know how many doses his pharmacy will receive next week. In an effort to make sure no vaccine is wasted, Beyer plans to allow eligible customers to sign up for appointments on his website as soon as he finds out.

“We’re not taking waitlists simply because we can’t guarantee that we get doses and how many we’ll get and we’re not going to give that false sense of security to someone,” Beyer said.

The federal government is currently allocating Wisconsin 70,000 doses each week. Until supply catches up with demand, hospital systems in Wisconsin are choosing different strategies for distribution. Dr. Brad Burmeister with Bellin Health in Green Bay said they’re asking eligible patients to start scheduling appointments now.

“It’s essentially a first-come, first-serve type situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Froedtert Hospital and Ascension Wisconsin are telling patients not to call. The hospitals plan to reach out to patients when it’s their turn.

Given the state’s current vaccine allocation and the potential for it to grow, DHS officials said they have no estimate for how long it could take to vaccinate those who are a part of phase 1-b. That group could be as large as 1.6 million people.

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