Wisconsin residents with certain medical conditions are next in line for COVID vaccine

A dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Health leaders continue to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations as distribution has slowed in the summer months.

Last updated on March 12th, 2021 at 10:33 pm

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced Thursday that Wisconsinites with certain medical conditions will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at the end of the month, and eligibility is expected to open to the general public in May.

The next eligible group – those with medical conditions associated with an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 – will be able to begin receiving the vaccine March 29. That group comprises more than 2 million people, DHS said.

The group includes those who are 16 and older with the following medical conditions: moderate to severe asthma, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, heart conditions, hypertension, immunocompromised state (from transplants, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or other medicines), liver disease, neurologic conditions, obesity, overweight, pregnancy, pulmonary fibrosis, severe obesity, sickle cell disease, diabetes, and thalassemia.

Because of the size of that group and limited vaccine supply, providers may need to prioritize individuals who are at higher risk within that group, DHS said.

“We are continuing to accelerate our pace, getting more shots in arms each week. Together with our vaccinator partners across the state, we are helping those at higher risk of exposure or more vulnerable to severe infection get a COVID-19 vaccine,” said DHS interim secretary Karen Timberlake.

Depending on vaccine supply, DHS anticipates that Wisconsin will be able to expand eligibility sometime in May to include all individuals age 16 and older.

That forecast echoes President Joe Biden’s announcement last week that the United States would have enough COVID-19 vaccines by the end of May for every adult, which is earlier than initial projections.

“Wisconsin continues to be a national leader in vaccinations and we are excited to open up eligibility to more Wisconsinites,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “I know this past year has been rough for everyone and I want to thank folks for stepping up and doing their part to protect themselves and loved ones from COVID-19. We urge those eligible and at highest risk to get vaccinated because each shot in arms means we are one step closer to getting back to our Wisconsin way of life.”

Timberlake addressed business leaders during a Greater Milwaukee Committee meeting this week, urging them to take an active role in helping their employees access the vaccine when the time comes.

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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