All Wisconsin residents 16+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccines starting April 5

NOW: All Wisconsin residents 16+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccines starting April 5

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Gov. Tony Evers announced the state will open up vaccine appointments to the general public starting on Monday, April 5.

“Expanding #COVID19 vaccine eligibility today marks a major milestone in our work to overcome this pandemic and bounce back together,” said Gov. Evers in a tweet. ”Thank you to all the folks in public health, vaccinators, and staff helping make this possible. Let's keep it up, Wisconsin!."

This week Wisconsin saw the largest shipment of about 188,000 first doses, which is nearly 50,000 more than the week before. With supplies increasing each week and reliable estimates on shipments from the federal government, health officials said it was time for the general public to get in line for a vaccine.  

"Step up and get vaccinated so there's not an open vaccine appointment anywhere in the state from now until the end of June," said Julie Willem Van Dijk, DHS deputy secretary. 

The announcement comes as the state reported Tuesday more than one million Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated, or 17.2% of the state’s population. About 1.7 million have received at least one dose, according to DHS data. 

“We knew all along our COVID-19 vaccination program would be a massive undertaking, and we’re proud Wisconsin is currently leading the country in these efforts and that we’re now able to give all Wisconsinites 16 and older the opportunity to get vaccinated,” said Gov. Evers. 

While the general public is encouraged to sign up for appointments now, supplies will be limited to teenagers as Pfizer is currently the only vaccine authorized for individuals age 16 and 17. State health officials also note that teenagers will need a parent or guardian to fill out a consent form before getting a vaccine. 

While everyone will be eligible starting April 5, some areas of the state may have a higher demand for vaccinations and may have waitlists. Vaccine providers will prioritize anyone previously eligible such as public-facing essential workers and people with medical conditions.

To help expand vaccine appointments, DHS also recently announced seven new pharmacies will begin receiving vaccines this week as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. This includes select Costco, CVS, and Hy-Vee locations. Independent pharmacy networks Good Neighbor and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Health Mart, Medicine Shoppe and Cardinal Health, and Topco are also included.

There continue to be many options available for getting vaccinated, including through DHS, federal and local community-based vaccination clinics, pharmacies, health care providers, local and tribal health departments and employers.

More information about each of these options is available on the COVID-19 "where to get vaccinated" page. 

To find a local vaccine provider visit the COVID-19 vaccine provider map or visit https://vaccinefinder.org. Individuals can also call the toll-free vaccine hotline at 1-844-684-1064 with questions or help registering for a vaccination appointment. The hotline is also available in Hindi, Hmong, Somali and Spanish.

Certain vaccine providers are using the COVID-19 Vaccine Registry. Anyone can register for an appointment using the COVID-19 vaccine registry. After you register, you will be notified when you are able to schedule an appointment. Appointments are based on whether a vaccine provider in your area uses the registry for scheduling and has available vaccine, and your place on the waitlist. Other vaccine providers may use their own scheduling system.

“We have built-up a strong network of vaccine providers across the state. Every community is different, some providers may have openings and others may have waitlists but I assure you that anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one in the coming weeks,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to reach 80 percent community immunity in Wisconsin.”

As more Wisconsinites get fully vaccinated, COVID-19 rates remain high. Health official urge residents to continue wearing a mask when around others and to practicing social distance guidelines. 

"Are there warning signs of a surge? Yes, there is. There is a growing number in the average (number) of cases, is a warning sign," said Willems Van Dijk.

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