COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered in phases in Wisconsin, frontline workers first

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 6:29 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - With news of a possible COVID-19 vaccine hitting the market by the end of the year, Wisconsin begins planning its distribution.

“It will be the most extraordinary public health intervention our state has ever undertaken,” said Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk, Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Extraordinary but not impossible said Willems Van Dijk as the state builds on a distribution process its used for years to distribute children vaccines.

“It’s really building on a structure that has been used, tried and tested,” said Stephanie Schauer, immunization program manager for DHS. "We use and distribute nearly $50 million worth of vaccines for the ‘Vaccines for Children’ program ever year.

Right now the state is adding to its pool of distributors in advance of the vaccine’s arrival.

“One aspect of this work is building a vaccinator network and enrolling healthcare providers and pharmacies in our COVID-19 vaccine program,” said Willems Van Dijk. “This will provide training on storage, handling and administration of vaccine once it is authorized.”

Because Wisconsin is expecting a limited supply of doses by the end of the year, the state will start with a phased approach.

“At first we will prioritize health care providers and support staff, as well as long-term care staff,” said Schauer. “As supply increases, we will widen the criteria for recommended vaccinations to other essential workers and those at high risk.”

As more doses become available, more people will be encouraged to get vaccinated. A majority will be given through a provider, pharmacy or community-based clinic, but the state isn’t ruling out drive-thru options.

“We haven’t made a plan yet to see if there will be drive-up clinics or walk-up clinics, but making this widely accessible to people is our goal as we work through phases,” said Willems Van Dijk.

Wildly accessible with the help of other businesses as there are some logistical challenges with rural areas. Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be kept in extremely cold temperatures.

“Wisconsin manufacturers of dry ice are working with us so that’s a great example of how we are coming together to make sure we get this vaccine to all parts of the state ‚” said Willems Van Dijk.

It will take months before everyone is able to get a vaccine, which means testing will continue.

“It isn’t like one ends and another starts. They will be running concurrently,” said Willems Van Dijk.

Copyright 2020 WBAY. All rights reserved.