Wisconsin moves up vaccine eligibility for certain medical conditions 1 week earlier than expected

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MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- More people will be able to get the vaccine in Wisconsin one week sooner than expected after the state moved up eligibility for those with certain health conditions.

Starting on March 21, those with cancer, high blood pressure, cancer and other individuals with medical conditions associated with an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 will be able to sign up for vaccine appointments.

“Our vaccinators across the state are doing great work to get folks vaccinated and get this done, and because of their good work, Wisconsin continues to be a national leader in getting shots in arms,” said Governor Evers in a statement. “Moving up eligibility for this critical group will help us get over the finish line and sooner, and get us back to our Wisconsin way of life.”

Governor Evers also said moving up the eligibility date means it’s possible the state could open up vaccinations to the general public before May 1st.

“We will always look at pushing it up. We want to get shots in arms,” Evers said during a Wisconsin Health News forum.

Depending on vaccine supply, DHS announced Wisconsin will be able to expand eligibility May 1 to include all individuals age 16 and older. DHS will continue to monitor vaccination coverage statewide and partner with vaccine providers in order to provide an updated vaccination timeline for the general public.

The next eligibility group which will begin March 22, 2021 includes individuals age 16 and over with the following medical conditions:

•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

•Diabetes

•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 intellectual disabilities and 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

•Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)

Current Eligibility Includes

•Frontline health care personnel

•Residents and staff in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities

•Police and fire personnel, correctional staff

•Age 65 and older

•Educators and Child care

•Individuals enrolled in Medicaid Long-term care programs

•Some public facing essential workers

•Non-frontline essential health care personnel

•Staff and residents in congregate living facilities

Lawmakers seek to allow dentists to administer vaccines

To help the state keep up with demand as more people become eligible, lawmakers are moving quickly on approving a bill to allow dentists to administer vaccines. The proposal would require 8 hours of training and also authorize them to administer the flu vaccine.

“We have a lot more people that will be coming for vaccines as the supply chain has been ramping up so this is just something I thought we needed to do in order to get more people vaccinated at a quicker pace,” said Rep. Clint Moses (R-Menomonie).

There are about 3,500 dentists that could become eligible in the state under this proposal. Neighboring states in Minnesota and Illinois already allow this practice.

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