DHS: Teachers, child care workers among groups to get COVID-19 vaccine in March

DHS: Teachers, child care workers among groups to get COVID-19 vaccine in March

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced on Tuesday Jan. 26, the next groups that will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccine distribution for Phase 1B will tentatively begin March 1.

Some public-facing essential workers are now next in line.

Those in the “Food Supply Chain," like at Hunger Task Force, are included.

“It’s been a long time coming," said Sherrie Tussler, director of Hunger Task Force.

Tussler said food pantries are now outdoors during the pandemic.

And often, she’s handing out both food and masks.

“I might interact, on a specific day, with as many as 150 seniors – half of whom don’t own a mask. So our exposures are there," she added.

According to a news release, the groups in priority order include education and child care, individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline health care essential personnel, and facility staff and residents in congregate living settings.

“Although it will depend on our federal allocation of vaccine. If our allocation increases, then we’ll be able to move up that date," DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said.

Officials say groups are being prioritized due to an increased risk of exposure of vulnerability to COVID-19 that are consistent with the the recommendations from the State Disaster Medical Assistance Committee (SDMAC).  

“We’re going to keep getting shots in arms as quickly as possible and as soon we have vaccines available,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “In the meantime, we have to continue working together to prevent the spread of this virus by wearing face coverings and limiting gatherings with others while we vaccinate folks across our state.”

On Monday, Jan. 25, those aged 65 and older started getting vaccinated.

And based on progress in Phase 1A, Van Dijk said they hope to get through at least 50% of this group by March 1.

“We will not be done with people who are 65+ on March 1, but we’ll be far enough along that we feel like it would likely, assuming a steady vaccine supply, be reasonable to begin to add others into the group," she explained.

Staff in YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs are also included in Phase 1B.

Dawn Matson, vice president of marketing for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, sent CBS 58 this statement: 

"We are encouraged by today's news from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services that our Youth Development Professionals and other Club staff will be eligible for the COVID -19 vaccine in early March. In addition to encouraging our staff members to get vaccinated, we will continue practicing the proven health and safety protocols we have had in place at our Clubs throughout the pandemic. We will continue to require students and staff, even those who have been vaccinated, to wear masks and practice social distancing and good hand hygiene. We will also continue our rigorous cleaning procedures. We look forward to the day when complete normalcy returns to our communities, but until then, we will continue doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of our members and staff."

As of Tuesday, Jan. 26., DHS reported 362,505 doses of vaccine had been administered in Wisconsin.

They said 69,077 of those were second doses, which means that's how many Wisconsinites have completed their vaccine series.

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