State vaccine panel sends recommendations for phase 1b vaccinations to state DHS

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WPR News - The State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) outlined recommendations within the state’s phase 1b vaccination group. After thousands of public comments, the SDMAC's Vaccine Subcommittee added grocery store workers, transit bus drivers, 911 dispatchers, and staff involved in the food supply chain, among others, to the next phase. The subcommittee presented its findings to the full committee Thursday. Educators and child care workers could receive priority over other groups of essential workers for COVID-19 vaccines, according to recommendations by a state panel. 

The committee's chair, Azita G. Hamedani, MD, MPH, MBA, said that the panel received thousands of comments on which groups should get priority next, with many comments focused on those who work with children.

Hamedani said the push to include essential groups in the early phases of vaccination, such as those with chronic health conditions, puts large numbers of people on the priority list for shots, even though DHS does not expect its supplies of vaccine to grow beyond the roughly 70,000 it receives each week.

"If you look at 1a and 1b together," she said, "almost half of adults in Wisconsin are now included."

And, she said, with so many types of essential workers and at-risk groups in need of vaccination, all residents will need to take precautions against spreading the virus for some time to come. 

"I keep hearing, as soon as we get the vaccine, we don’t have to worry about everything else, and that is not the case right now," she said. "Vaccination does not negate the need for continued adherence to best practices (such as) masking hand hygiene, testing, isolation and quarantine."

Wisconsin's Department of Health Services makes the final determination on which groups will be eligible to be vaccinated.

This is a segment of an article published by Brady Carlson of Wisconsin Public Radio on Thursday, January 21, 2021, 12:50pm. Read the full article.

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Update 1/26/21: DHS Announces Groups Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Tentatively Beginning March 1. Read more...