Wisconsin will begin vaccinating people 65 and older as soon as next Monday, which will add about 700,000 new Wisconsinites to the list of those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Wisconsin’s deputy health secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said the decision was made to include this group because older adults bear the brunt of COVID-19 fatalities.
“This is the [age] population that has suffered the most from this disease,” Van Dijk said. “We want to make sure we get shots in our arms as quickly as possible, because every shot in the arm of someone over the age 65 is going to save a life.”
For those in that population looking to receive a vaccination when they become available Jan. 25, Van Dijk said people should look to where they receive their flu vaccine—whether it is their doctor’s office, pharmacy, or other location.
Vaccinating this new round of Wisconsinites will be slow according to Van Dijk. The state receives 70,000 doses of vaccine weekly, and Van Dijk said working through the 700,000 Wisconsinites over-65 could take as many as two months.
She added that the speed largely depends on the stability of the current vaccine supply being shipped to Wisconsin, and whether that will increase or decrease in the coming weeks.
“I implore people for their patience,” she said. “People will get their vaccines, it just may be, not tomorrow, but sometime in the next month or two.”
Van Dijk said the state currently has no plans to limit eligibility of those over-65 to receive the vaccine to just Wisconsin residents, but local health offices may make their own decisions to limit vaccines to just those in their communities.
The state has currently doled out 248,125 vaccinations with another 100,000 in transit to Wisconsin, according to Department of Health Services data.
This also comes during a shakeup at the head of DHS, with Secretary-designee Andrea Palm stepping down to take a job in the Biden administration. Former DHS Secretary Karen Timberlake will be the interim head of the agency starting Wednesday.