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WI COVID-19 vaccinations could start within a week of FDA authorization

Posted at 6:35 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 19:35:22-05

MILWAUKEE — People in Wisconsin could begin receiving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine within a week from the Food and Drug Administration's authorization, according to doctors and state health officials.

The FDA is expected to consider Pfizer's vaccine on Thursday.

During a webinar with Wisconsin Health News on Tuesday, Julie Willems Van Dijk, Deputy Secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said once Pfizer's vaccine is authorized by the FDA it needs to go to a committee which will set guidelines. Available Vaccine supply also needs to be considered in the timeline.

"I think our best-case scenario is about a week after the FDA EUA is authorized we should be putting shots and arms but it all depends on all of these factors," said Willems Van Dijk.

Frontline healthcare workers who have had to bear the brunt of the pandemic will be first to get vaccinated.

After nine months fighting the pandemic Dr. David Letzer, an infectious disease specialist in southeast Wisconsin and chairman of the Wisconsin Medical Society's task force on COVID-19, was excited to see a vaccine so close to authorization.

"It’s a real positive bright spot, something we desperately need as providers," said Dr. Letzer.

Dr. Letzer said the vaccine will help healthcare workers at every level continue to care for patients amid strained hospitals.

However, one of his biggest concerns about COVID-19 vaccines is people's willingness to get one.

"I think most of us on the frontline who see what COVID can do in unpredictable ways, so not just high-risk individuals that we see get ill and seeing the data and how protective it appears to be, we are more than willing to stand in line to get vaccinated," said Dr. Letzer.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers and top public health officials insisted they would get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is their turn.

Health officials stressed immunity takes a few weeks after the second dose of the vaccine, that is why it remains critical people continue to wear face masks and social distance during the rollout.

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