Wisconsin Health Officials Say State Set To Distribute Vaccine

DHS Expects 50K Doses By Mid-December

A patient receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19
In this March 16, 2020, photo, a patient receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.Ted S. Warren/AP Photo

State health officials say Wisconsin is ready to begin distributing coronavirus vaccines by mid-December, when it hopes to receive nearly 50,000 doses.

Department of Health Services spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt said the state will work with 97 local health departments and tribal jurisdictions, as well as health care providers, pharmacies, community-based organizations and other public agencies to distribute the vaccine.

More than 1,100 providers and 485 organizations have submitted forms to become vaccine providers, Goodsitt said.

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She said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects the first shipments to arrive by mid-December.

On a call with reporters Thursday, DHS Secretary Andrea Palm said she expects the first round of vaccine doses will be small.

“We’re certainly gearing up and ready for that initial allocation,” she said. “But we do anticipate that it will be, obviously, far less than is necessary to vaccinate all of our frontline health care providers.”

After the distribution of the first initial doses, Palm said she expects the state will receive a new shipment of vaccines each week, with varying amounts as manufacturing ramps up. She said DHS is not planning to mandate the vaccine, although she hopes to make it widely available. When the state does begin distributing vaccine doses, it will follow a “hub and spoke” model for distribution, she said.

Gov. Tony Evers sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar Thursday asking that Wisconsin be prioritized in the initial distribution of vaccines. The letter says that Wisconsin has unique and substantial barriers to implementing strategies that can mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, including the fact that most statewide mitigation efforts “have been struck down, enjoined, or are currently the subject of ongoing litigation.”

“Wisconsin has been unable, for odd reasons, like political, to put mitigating factors and opportunities in place that would help us keep the virus from surging the way it has,” Evers said on a call with reporters Thursday.

The letter asked Azar to grant Wisconsin the first vaccine shipments “in quantities large enough to vaccinate all 450,000 members of our health care workforce and to begin vaccinating Wisconsinites who are high-risk.”