Focus shifts to young people as vaccination rates plateau

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- National and state officials expressed concern this week over low vaccination rates among young people, something they believe is preventing the country and Wisconsin from thresholds needed to push the spread of COVID-19 further down.

The Biden administration said this week it will not meet its goal for vaccination rates nationally. In Wisconsin, rates hover near 50 percent for people who are fully vaccinated or who have at least one dose.

People ages 18 to their mid-twenties have lower vaccination rates compared to other age groups, pushing health officials to turn the focus on getting shots into younger people's arms.

"We look forward to seeing younger-aged groups catch up to their parents and grandparents in terms of vaccination rates," Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said in a media briefing this week.

Health leaders warned if vaccination rates plateau, it could have major impacts on the state as a whole.

"The more COVID-19 we have circulating in our community because of unvaccinated individuals, the more likely we are to have variants that would be of concern and potentially not respond to the vaccines that we have, and that would bring back more restrictions, more suffering," Dr. Matt Anderson at UW Health told CBS 58.

The age group in focus has college campuses gearing up for the fall to ensure students don't contribute to any potential rise in cases.

Some colleges in Wisconsin are requiring students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 when then return for the fall, but UW System schools are not.

"It's not a requirement, but it's what's going to help fall of 2021 look like fall of 2019," Kim Litwack, the dean of the College of Nursing at UW-Milwaukee, said in an interview with CBS 58.

Litwack said the campus is already preparing for the fall.

"So we are encouraging vaccination. We have a vaccine clinic going on now and we're going to be partnering with the health department to have vaccines available on campus when classes start," Litwack said.

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