Gov. Evers tours UW-Milwaukee COVID vaccine site, signs bill allowing dentists to administer shots

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – More than 2 million additional Wisconsinites became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, March 22 – the largest expansion to date – as the state continues to address demand and supply issues.

Kathy Vance, of Franklin, received her first dose of the vaccine Monday at UW-Milwaukee’s new COVID-19 vaccine clinic, a collaboration between the university, Advocate Aurora Health and the Milwaukee Health Department.

“I’m this much closer to getting to hug my granddaughters,” Vance said. She is one of millions of people in the state eligible to get the vaccine thanks to the latest expansion that includes people age 16 and older with certain medical conditions. “My husband and I both have some health issues that made us eligible today and I’m just thrilled,” Vance said.

Governor Tony Evers toured the new vaccine clinic along with UW System President and former Governor Tommy Thompson. The leaders applauded UW System’s campuses like UWM and their role in helping serve as community hubs for addressing needs like testing and vaccine administration.

“The University of Wisconsin is reaching out and helping,” Thompson told reporters in a news conference. “I couldn’t be happier and more pleased.”

After the tour of the facility, Governor Evers signed a bill into law to allow dentists in the state to administer the vaccine shot. But even with increased resources, supply of the vaccine limits what facilities like UWM’s can do. The clinic administered about 450 doses Monday, but it is built to do more.

“This facility right now could do a thousand a day, a lot more than they do,” Evers said. “And every facility in the state of Wisconsin that is operating could do more. In addition, the number of vaccinators that we have far exceeds the number of vaccinators that are putting shots in arms.”

Evers said he is optimistic supply will catch up and vaccination rates will ramp up, especially once doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are more consistently delivered in large quantities.

This latest eligibility expansion was moved up a week from March 29 to March 22 thanks in part to supply of the vaccine and rates of vaccination across the state. Governor Evers was asked if the general public’s eligibility date of May 1 could be moved up.

“Possibly,” Evers answered. “We’ll take a look at that and see how it goes.”

Meanwhile, vaccinators are also working to keep up with demand.

“Today has been busier compared to last week,” Dimmy Sokhal, a clinical pharmacist at Hayat Pharmacy said in an interview.

The pharmacy’s headquarters at 813 W. Layton Ave. has adjusted to the expanded eligibility by increasing the number of administrative staff and vaccinators. On top of that, it shifted from a walk-in system to an appointment system, though some walk-ins are accepted if they are eligible, the pharmacy said.

The new system is helping them keep up.

“I think just having those appointments has been great because it gives us a plan, and the patients a plan as well, because a lot of these people are younger and they do have work or somewhere they have to get back to,” Sokhal said. “So I think having that organization is important for this set of population.”

More information about Hayat’s appointments and when their clinic is administering vaccines can be found on their website, here: https://www.hayatrx.com/

More information about UWM’s vaccination clinic can be found on their website, here: https://uwm.edu/coronavirus/vaccine-clinic/

Here is the list of medical conditions that is part of the eligibility expansion starting March 22 for those 16 and up:

Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
Cancer
Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
Chronic kidney disease
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Cystic fibrosis
Down syndrome
Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
Hypertension or high blood pressure
Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
Liver disease
Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30-39 kg/m2)
Overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2)
Pregnancy
Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2 or more)
Sickle cell disease
Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
 

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