‘Every day we delay, more lives are going to be lost’: Health leaders echo Evers’ call for WI to be priority for vaccine distribution

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – As Governor Tony Evers calls on the federal government to prioritize Wisconsin for vaccine distribution, health care leaders say not being prioritized would lead to a high cost and growing crisis.

The November surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations depleted an already scarce supply of nurses, according to the Wisconsin Nurses Association. The group says prioritizing Wisconsin’s frontline health care workers would prevent a dangerous decline in quality of care.

“How it was surging, that feeling of, ‘Oh my God, we don’t have enough nurses,’ was very real,” WNA CEO Gina Dennik-Champion told CBS 58 of the rise in cases in November. “Getting immunized against COVID would certainly stop that sort of situation from happening again.”

Health care workers are set to be the first in line to receive the first batches of the vaccine. Workers and residents of long-term care facilities are likely next.

“For every day we delay, more lives are going to be lost,” Rick Abrams said in an interview. Abrams is the president and CEO of the Wisconsin Health Care Association and Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living.

WHCA/WiCAL are already partnering with pharmacies for distribution.

“Those pharmacies are going to be responsible for bringing the vaccine into our facilities and administering it to our long-term care facilities residents and we hope, to the degree that they can, to the employees,” Abrams said.

Pharmacies are gearing up to be critical partners in the state’s efforts to get Wisconsin’s population immunized.

“This is by far by far the biggest challenge and opportunity for us as pharmacists,” Dr. Hashim Zaibak of Hayat Pharmacy said.

While there are many logistical hurdles like supply, equipment, storage and staffing, pharmacists are getting set.

“We’re preparing to make sure we have all these important logistical pieces put in together so we’re prepared,” Dr. Dimmy Sokhal of Hayat Pharmacy said.

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