Panel votes to add 1 million Wisconsinites to next phase of COVID-19 vaccination


A state vaccine advisory committee on Friday morning, Jan. 8 approved a plan for the next phase of vaccine distribution that includes more than one million Wisconsinites. The plan has yet to be approved by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. It is expected to come out of public comment in the coming days.

The plan approved by the DHS Vaccine Distribution Subcommittee includes all residents of Wisconsin aged 70 and over (about 550,000 people), first responders (30,000), education workers (160,000), correctional service officers (10,000), people incarcerated (20,000) and working in contexts of “collective life” (80,000).

The vote of the subcommittee was not unanimous. At least three members declined to support the vote, including Rob Gundermann, CEO of the Coalition for Wisconsin Aging and Health Groups. Gundermann told his fellow committee members that he does not support the inclusion of congregational life and, more specifically, prisoners in Phase 1B. “It’s very difficult, logistically,” Gundermann said. “If we can keep Phase 1B as narrow as possible, we can get through it as quickly as possible.”

Mary Muse, head nurse for the Wisconsin Corrections Department and voting member of the subcommittee, delivered a passionate three-minute statement to the committee, saying, “I don’t see how we’re moving forward and we are addressing ourselves. not to this population, “citing nearly 25 deaths among the prison population to date.

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One of the committee’s co-chairs, Ann Lewandowksi, pointed out that the inclusion of incarcerated people was a “political issue” that will need to be considered by “politicians”, possibly referring to DHS Secretary Andrea Palm and Governor Tony Evers. “It’s out of our control,” she said.

The vaccine distribution subcommittee intends to have a finalized plan in writing for public comment by its next meeting on Tuesday, January 12.

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