COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy persists as Wisconsin's supply rises

The Wisconsin Center will be able to administer 3,000 COVID-19 shots per day, seven days a week, for the next two months.

The Biden administration chose the downtown Milwaukee site to serve as a federal pilot community vaccination clinic. It follows Tuesday's announcement that all Wisconsin residents ages 16 and older will be eligible for the vaccine Monday, April 5.

While many celebrated the news that vaccine eligibility will soon expand to the general public, there are new concerns about competition for available shots.

"My only concern is that the people who are most susceptible, still get first priority," said Milwaukee resident Paula Langley.

Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said patients at risk should remain at the front of the line when supply is limited and that an increase in doses from Johnson & Johnson is on the way.

"I fully expect health providers to prioritize people with health conditions first," said Willems Van Dijk. 

Meanwhile, officials are worried about the opposite problem -- not enough demand. Experts say 80% of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

"We continue to need Wisconsinites throughout the state to keep raising their hand and saying, I’m ready for my vaccine," Willems Van Dijk said.

Madison-area resident Katyan Siever is still on the fence.

"It’s not that I don’t want to, I just need to make up my mind. I don’t know, I just need to see what’s going on first," Siever said.

COVID-19 vaccination card

COVID-19 vaccination card

Doctors with UW Health urge the 30% of Wisconsin residents ages 16 and up who have gotten the vaccine to share their experience with those who remain hesitant.

"Not in a judgmental way, but understand what their concerns may be," said Dr. Matt Anderson with UW Health. "I think there’s power in people understanding, seeing people that they know who have had an experience and that the experience has gone well."

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Vaccinations at the Wisconsin Center are by appointment only. People can register at covidmke.com or by calling 414-286-6800.

Eventually, registration will transition to the statewide, online registry system.

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