Wisconsin Focusing On Hesitant Populations, Teens As COVID-19 Vaccination Rate Slows

43 Percent Of Wisconsinites Are Fully Vaccinated

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coronavirus vaccine
A shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at the First Baptist Church of Pasadena Friday, May 14, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases are on the decline in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 181 new cases of the disease Monday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 151 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 163 daily cases. New cases for Tuesday were not reported at the time of publication.

As COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin continue to decline, more of the state’s residents are being vaccinated against the disease.

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A total of 5,273,004 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Wisconsin as of Tuesday, with 79.7 percent of Wisconsinites age 65 and up having completed the vaccination series. According to DHS, 22.3 percent of the state’s 12- to 15-year-olds have had their first doses of vaccine and 5.9 percent have received their second. That age group became eligible May 13.

Deputy DHS Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said about one-third of 16- to 18-year-olds, who were approved to receive the Pfizer vaccine at the same time as adults, have been vaccinated. She said DHS is working with schools and communities to increase vaccination rates in teens this summer.

“We know that teenage children are where we’re seeing the largest incidence of disease right now, and when you think about teenagers, it’s pretty easy to understand why — they like to be together in groups, they like to be close together,” she said. “They just want to be able to hang out and be close together without masks on, and the best way for us to get kids to be able to do that safely is for us to increase those vaccine numbers.”

As of Tuesday, 2,512,557 people in Wisconsin, or 43.2 percent of the population, have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second Pfizer or Moderna dose or two weeks after Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

“If there are preventable causes of death that we know how to prevent, we should try to prevent them,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, the state’s chief medical officer. “Right now, three people on average a day are still dying of COVID-19 in our state, even as we look at our statistics and they look like we’re in good shape.”

Wisconsin has relaunched its “You Stop The Spread” campaign in an effort to get the state to 80 percent vaccinated. The state is working with spokespeople in different populations to help answer their communities’ questions and encourage people to get their shots.

“The whole point of herd immunity is that we reduce disease levels in the community so that we have less spread and particularly so that we can protect those people who are unable to receive vaccine,” said Willems Van Dijk.

Increasing rates of vaccination have provided a sense of hope after a yearlong pandemic that has claimed the lives of 7,178 people in Wisconsin. There were eight new deaths from COVID-19 reported Monday.

Other DHS data reported include:

  • As of Monday, 611,168 total cases of COVID-19 has been reported since the pandemic began.
  • 170 people were in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Monday, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association.
  • Daily testing capacity remains at 59,273, though preliminary statistics show 5,475 people were tested Monday.

Coronavirus rates vary from county to county. In order to track COVID-19 activity levels, DHS looks at the number of new cases per a county’s population over a 14-day period — and whether there’s an upward or downward trend in new cases. Activity levels range from “very high,” “high,” “medium,” to “low.”

As of Wednesday, DHS data showed the state had no counties with a “very high” level, while the majority of Wisconsin counties had “high” levels of activity. There were shrinking trajectories in 19 counties and no counties with growing case trajectories. Wisconsin’s overall COVID-19 activity level is “medium.”

For more about COVID-19, visit Coronavirus in Wisconsin.

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