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Pharmacy group asks state to expand COVID-19 vaccinations; Gov. asks for more doses

Nurse Ellen Quinones prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen).
Nurse Ellen Quinones prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen).(Kevin Hagen | AP)
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 10:58 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2021 at 12:57 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Gov. Tony Evers asked the federal government to deliver more COVID-19 vaccine doses Monday, the same day the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin asked the state Department of Health Services (DHS) to move COVID-19 vaccinations to Phase 1B.

A statement from Gov. Evers’ office says that state has given more than 151,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, giving priority to frontline health care workers and people in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities but there are 550,000 people who are eligible in Phase 1A.

The Associated Press reports the federal government is giving Wisconsin about 70,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna each week. Evers says Wisconsin needs more than 10,000 additional doses to fulfill requests from vaccinators.

“Our vaccine team is working across the state on vaccine distribution, and so many Wisconsinites are ready to get vaccinated and get back to our Wisconsin way of life,” said Gov. Evers. “In a state where our statewide mitigation strategies have been struck down and challenged time and time again, it is absolutely critical that Wisconsin get additional doses of vaccine to meet demand and box in the virus.”

Evers says Wisconsin has 1,098 vaccine provider locations ready to finish Phase 1A and move on to Phase 1B.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Phase 1B include older adults living in group settings, such as senior living facilities and prisons, and people of all ages with underlying medical conditions that put them at a significantly higher risk of serious COVID-19 symptoms.

The Associated Press reports an advisory subcommittee to the DHS is expected to vote Tuesday on its own recommendations for Phase 1B. The panel has discussed vaccinating people age 70 and older and limited groups of essential workers. Group home residents and inmates account for about 100,000 people. Essential workers may include first responders, corrections workers and educators -- another 750,000 people in all. Workers in agriculture, public transit and grocery stores would add 115,000.

Evers says the Disaster Medical Advisory Committee’s recommendations will be released for public comment starting Wednesday.

The association of Wisconsin pharmacies is also asking the DHS to rapidly expand the distribution of vaccines to pharmacies to get them to rural and under-served areas. The Trump administration has partnered with CVS and Walgreens pharmacies to handle vaccinations in long-term care facilities nationwide. “Some pharmacies are already involved, but enlisting all of our willing, ready and able pharmacy providers will exponentially increase the opportunities for vaccination,” Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin Vice President of Public Affairs Danielle Womack wrote in her letter to DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm.

At last report, 56,900 doses of vaccine were distributed for Wisconsin nursing home residents and staff through the Pharmacy Partnership Program since Dec. 28, and Gov. Evers said the state expects to finish vaccinations for that population by the end of the month. Another 50,000 doses were reserved to start vaccinations at assisted-living facilities on January 25.

A statement from Evers says that took longer to get underway because of a federal requirement that the state has to bank 50 percent of the doses it would need to finish vaccinating everyone in those groups.

Copyright 2021 WBAY. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.