Grocers, 911 dispatchers, bus drivers added to Phase 1B recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- More groups are in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin.

The state vaccine subcommittee made changes to its recommendations for Phase 1B, and 911 dispatchers are now included.

Waukesha County has five 911 dispatch centers, and more than 60 employees.

Emergency Preparedness Director Gary Bell applauds their possible enrollment into the next group.

"We need to make sure that we’re able to staff the center to receive those calls to send the people who are going to help you in your time of crisis," Bell said.

The State Disaster Medical Advisory Vaccine Subcommittee said dispatchers are highly trained and serve critical roles in emergency response.

"If one of them gets sick they could be in a situation where they literally have to quarantine half of their 911 center," subcommittee member Robert Gundermann said.

Despite some public perception, subcommittee co-chair Jonathan Temte said they are listening and adhering to state and federal guidance.

"We want to be transparent," he explained. "State committees can only go so far in interpreting the ASIP recommendations, and we’re somewhat hamstrung by the fact that the recommendations don’t come out very timely.”

The subcommittee has also added grocers, K-12 staff, state prisoners and public mass transit workers – like bus drivers.

The Milwaukee County Transit System has 740 bus operators in Milwaukee County.

In a statement, they told CBS 58: 

“Bus operators and other mass transit workers are essential to our community’s infrastructure. We’re pleased with today’s development and hopeful that officials will vote to approve our employees as Phase 1B recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine.” – Kristina Hoffman, MCTS Director of Marketing and Communications

Wisconsin DHS has opened up Phase 1B to people 65 and older, as well as police and fire.

The subcommittee said that’s already more than 1.15 million people added to the groups the committee is now recommending.

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