Health officials say Milwaukee County could see vaccinations for general public by late spring

NOW: Health officials say Milwaukee County could see vaccinations for general public by late spring

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee County health officials say each day they are moving one step closer to finalizing COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans for the general public.

Dr. Ben Weston with Milwaukee County’s Office of Emergency Management says all eyes are now on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, but it’ll be months away before we’ll see the effects.

“These vaccines will be game changers to this pandemic, they’ll be game changers to the health system’s ability to care for patients,” said Dr. Ben Weston, medical director for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner, Marlaina Jackson says local and state health officials are holding daily meetings on vaccine distribution. She says they’re moving in a positive direction, the first round of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines have already arrived in the area.

“We’re talking about the volume, who will receive it and when, as well as messaging and communication as well as making sure we understand the prioritization and the differentiation and definitions of essential workers,” said Jackson.

“Not surprisingly, and appropriately, health care providers have been prioritized to receive vaccines in this very first distribution,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Dr. Ben Weston says realistically, Milwaukee County will be able to vaccinate the general public in late spring if there are no hiccups along the way.

“Late spring--early summer is a reasonable guess. Everybody’s answer would be a guess, honestly, from the highest levels of government on down. It’s an educated guess, but it’s a guess,” he added.

“We are making sure that we have appropriate understanding of staffing as well as equipment and supply needs as it relates to giving out that larger general public vaccination,” said Jackson.  

Dr. Weston says while the community is currently seeing a deceleration of disease burden, he does not want people to loosen up on efforts to curb spread of COVID-19. Health officials also pointed out the concerningly low testing numbers in the community.

“Despite our burden of disease decelerating, our hospitals for example, are still twice as high of capacity as the peak we saw in the spring,” Dr. Weston said.

“We need to keep measuring the spread of COVID-19 in our community, which means we need people to continue to get tested,” added Mayor Barrett.

By the end of the week, area health officials hope to have two approved COVID-19 vaccines. Mayor Barrett says we could see the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA as soon as Thursday or Friday.

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