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Who will qualify for the next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations? State panel makes recommendations

COVID-19 vaccinations
COVID-19 vaccinations(WBKO)
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 11:37 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is now accepting public comments on recommendations for who qualifies for the next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations, referred to as Phase 1b.

A DHS subcommittee, the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee’s (SDMAC) Vaccine Distribution Subcommittee, issued its recommendations, which can be read in their entirety HERE. Public comments need to be emailed to DHSSDMAC@dhs.wisconsin.gov by 4 P.M. next Monday, January 18.

There are three broad groups of people in the recommendations, totaling over 1.13 million people -- or about one-fifth of the state’s population -- but the panel also addresses who in those groups should be prioritized if there isn’t enough vaccine for everyone.

The recommendations are:

  • People over 70 years of age who are not in long-term care facilities, which were included in Phase 1a, including Family Care and IRIS recipients. This age group has a high hospitalization rate and the highest mortality rate from COVID-19. The subcommittee estimates 682,451 people are in this group.
  • Staff and residents of congregate living facilities (estimated 237,902 people), including prisons, jails and mental health facilities; homeless shelters; transitional housing; people in housing serving people based on age or disability, such as Family Care and IRIS; and housing provided by an employer.
  • Public-facing essential workers, including education and child care workers in face-to-face learning (160,000); first responders other than EMS, who were included in phase 1a (27,880); additional health care personnel who weren’t included in phase 1a (about 25,000); and workers in mink husbandry (about 300), because mink farms were linked to international outbreaks.

If the supply of COVID-19 vaccine is limited, the panel recommends prioritizing the people in Phase 1B groups by age, focusing on those essential workers and people in congregate living facilities who are 65 or older; by demographics, focusing on Blacks, Latinx and Native Americans and people with socioeconomic vulnerability; and people in these groups who have existing medical conditions, including cancer patients, diabetics, smokers, mothers-to-be, and the obese:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer (active)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic lung disease, such as COPD
  • Chronic metabolic disease
  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions
  • Hypertension
  • Immunocompromised conditions
  • Intellectual or developmental disability
  • Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking
  • Solid organ transplants resulting in immunocompromised state

Depending on how tight the vaccine supply is, the subcommittee further says vaccinating facilities may need to implement a lottery to determine who gets a shot or offer them on a first come/first served basis.

The panel also says facilities need to be as transparent as possible if prioritizing who gets the vaccine, and try to reduce inequities if possible.

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