What's the COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan for every Wisconsinite? When can you get the vaccine? When can your family get one? The Department of Health Services doesn't have a comprehensive vaccination distribution plan and Assembly Republicans want that to change.
A subcommittee of unelected bureaucrats is slowly mapping out what groups get the vaccine first. The first priority groups are frontline health care personnel, residents in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, police and fire personnel, correctional staff and adults 65 and over. The next eligible populations include individuals working in education and child care, individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline essential health care personnel and faculty staff and residents in congregate living settings. If you look at the specifics of that priority group, it means incarcerated individuals are getting access to the vaccine possibly before your 60-year old relative.
This week the Assembly approved two bills to strengthen the state’s coronavirus vaccine distribution. Assembly members passed a bill that will require the state to prioritize individuals 60 years or older for receiving the vaccination. We know that Wisconsin seniors over the age 60 represent 80 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 92 percent of related deaths. This bill would streamline the process and improve communication to the public. It also requires the governor to submit a plan the general public by March.
The second bill will allow pharmacy technicians to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. We need an "all-hands-on-deck" approach to distributing the vaccine and getting more qualified vaccinators in the pipeline will assist with this goal.
With lives on the line, Wisconsin must do a better job vaccinating its citizens. The Badger State has had a disappointing vaccination rollout and is ranked near the bottom of vaccines administered. These bills require the Evers administration to develop a concrete plan and prioritize people over 60 years old. It’s time to put politics aside and do the right thing.
Assembly Bill 4 and Assembly Bill 5 now head to the state Senate for consideration.