VACCINE TEAM: Ages 16 and older will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine April 5 in Wisconsin

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 6:42 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - Starting April 5, everyone in Wisconsin 16 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

May 1 was the original day for mass eligibility in the state.

Governor Tony Evers announced on March 30 that Wisconsin leads the nation in getting eligible people vaccinated, with roughly 17% of the state fully vaccinated. The decision to open up eligibility was made after the federal government gave the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) more accurate estimates of vaccine supply.

They expect to receive increases in supply from Moderna and Pfizer, along with even more supply from Johnson and Johnson.

The DHS believes by making more people eligible, it will be easier for health care providers to vaccinate people and not worry about eligibility.

“Everybody who wants the vaccine will get the vaccine. It won’t all happen at once, but I know I’m not alone in feeling hope, excitement, and relief that we all have anxiously waited for this year,” Evers said. Those who are 16 and 17-year-olds will need parental permission to receive a vaccine.

While eligibility will be for everyone 16 and older, DHS fully expects health care providers to still prioritize the more vulnerable populations.

Despite the increase of vaccines, Evers said supply is still limited and it’s important to remain patient as more people become eligible.

The move to vaccinate the rest of the state comes as a way to relieve stress on statewide health care providers as well as helping minorities get vaccinated.

A major issue in getting minority groups vaccinated is the language barrier.

The DHS hopes with eligibility opened up, they can focus on outreach to those communities. For example, DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said the opening of the mass vaccination site in Wausau on April 6 will give health care providers the chance to work closely with the Hmong community.

They’re in the process of making the Wisconsin Covid-19 vaccine registry compliant with more languages outside of just English and Spanish.

“Another barrier I’ve heard from many populations especially those with limited English is just trying to sort out who’s in and who’s out and we thought let’s remove that barrier now that we’re at a point of more steady vaccine supply,” Willems Van Dijk said. She said the Covid-19 hotline associated with the website does offer a wide variety of languages but are looking to add more soon.

During this next vaccination phase, DHS plans to target specific neighborhoods, community centers, and cultural gathering areas to get everyone vaccinated who wants it.

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