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Wisconsin Teachers, Childcare Workers Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Monday


Teachers and childcare workers can begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as March 1.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced the transition to the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout Thursday.

Other newly eligible Wisconsinites include those enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, public-facing essential workers, remaining health care workers and people who live in congregate living facilities, like prisons.

Of those groups, DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said educators are of the highest priority.

“We want to protect you and we appreciate everything you are doing to educate our children,” she said.

Though not every teacher can expect to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on March 1, Van Dijk said all educators should receive the opportunity to get vaccinated within four to six weeks.

That time frame could be shortened if vaccine supply continues to increase, which is a likely possibility if Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is approved by the FDA.

“It’s a relatively short period of time in the whole history of COVID,” Van Dijk said. “Every teacher is going to get vaccinated. We’ll get to all of them very quickly.”

To ensure all K-12 teachers and childcare workers can receive the vaccine as soon as possible, the DHS is creating a master schedule.

Based on that schedule, the DHS will allocate vaccines to local health departments intended specifically for school workers.

Which schools will be first?

That depends on a number of factors, including the number of students receiving free and reduced-price lunches, the number of students of color and simple geography.

As this new group becomes eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, people who are 65 and older can continue to get vaccinated by pharmacies, clinics and local health departments.

Already half of Wisconsinites in that age group have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.

That was the threshold DHS wanted to reach before opening eligibility to a broader group of people.

However, remaining seniors are not out of luck.

Because supply continues to increase, people 65 and older should be able to continue receiving vaccines at the same rate

“We need to keep vaccine available for people who are 65 plus,” Van Dijk said. “So the plan is that we continue in that 70-80 thousand dose level going out to our vaccinators to continue vaccinating people who are 65 plus. As they finish those groups, [they’ll] move on to other eligible groups.”

Van Dijk said communities across the state will likely finish vaccinating eligible groups at different speeds, depending on an area’s population and the number of people willing to get vaccinated.

She said she’s hopeful Wisconsin will reach herd immunity by the summer, but that depends on vaccine supply.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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