Wisconsin health officials share COVID-19 vaccine details

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) on Tuesday, Nov. 17 provided additional details about how a COVID-19 vaccine would be distributed and administered to residents across the state.

Health officials are preparing to roll out a coronavirus vaccine by early 2021, and that doing so will be the biggest public health undertaking in state history.

"This is a massive vaccination effort, and we’re going to need all hands on deck," said Julie Willems Van Dijk, DHS deputy secretary. "We will continue to build on our previous experiences.

"We're confident with the variety that we'll be receiving, that we'll be able to overcome those challenges and make sure we are able to get vaccines to the rural parts of the state."

Pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer are on track to get emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for their vaccines in the coming weeks. Initial studies show that both are more than 90% effective.

A health care worker holds an injection syringe of the phase 3 vaccine trial. (Photo by Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Some of the challenges ahead include making sure that everyone gets not just the initial vaccine shot, but also the booster shot that is needed a few weeks after.

Equipping pharmacies, clinics and community vaccination sites with the infrastructure to properly store the doses, some of which require extreme cold, is also on the list of challenges.

The vaccine would then be made available for health care workers first. That group alone encompasses hundreds of thousands of people -- far more than the initial number of doses that the CDC will be able to allocate to Wisconsin.

As time goes on, and production increases, other groups of the population would be able to receive the vaccine. Residents of long-term care facilities or essential workers will be eligible for the shots, with the general public in line in the final phase.

"Socializing is something we are hopeful for by late 2021," Van Dijk said.

In the meantime, the state is currently bolstering up its immunization registry and enrolling providers in training.

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Public health officials say that approximately 80% of the population will need to be vaccinated to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Last year, 40% of people got the flu vaccine.

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