Vaccine advisory subcommittee OKs Phase 1b, covers 1.6M+ residents

The next phase of Wisconsin's COVID-19 vaccine rollout just got a whole lot bigger.

A state vaccine advisory subcommittee voted on Wednesday morning, Jan. 20 to approve a Phase 1b plan that covers more than 1.6 million Wisconsin residents (33% of the adult population).

The plan, which still needs final approval from the full committee, includes all adults 65 and older, grocery workers, meat processors, transit bus drivers, teachers, daycare workers, college professors, 911 dispatchers, and state prisoners, among others.

Added to the Phase 1a group, this would take roughly 45% of the state eligible for vaccines.

In all, the state committee received more than 5,000 public comments on its Phase 1b plan.

"Which, if we look at the rollout of vaccine, is going to be a very, very, very long time," said Dr. Jonathan Temte, subcommittee co-chair.

One panelist expressed concern that adults under 65 with serious health issues are not included.

"We’re protecting lots of essential workers and they deserve to be protected, but we’re not protecting people with cancer. We’re not protecting people with heart disease, with kidney disease, etcetera," said Dr. Edward Belongia of the Marshfield Clinic.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android

One subcommittee member said "we are blowing up Phase 1b," while another opined that with the current rate of vaccine availability, completing this phase will take a "very, very long time."

The plan now goes to the full State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee for approval. 

Wisconsin begins distributing, receiving at-home COVID-19 tests

The state has started distributing and receiving at-home test kits for COVID-19.

As 700K become eligible for vaccine, WI gets roughly 70K doses a week

At the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Mayor Tom Barrett said staff has completely changed the floorplan, ramping up COVID vaccinations from hundreds to thousands, focused on getting as many doses as they can.