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From One of the Worst to Among the Best: How Wisconsin's COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Turned Around


Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout got off to a slow start.

At the end of January, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the state was among the bottom five in administering the vaccine.

But since then, Wisconsin has climbed the ranks.

Now, CDC data show more than 29 percent of the state’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, placing Wisconsin in the top 15 states for getting shots into arms.

During a tour of the Bridge Community Health Clinic in Wausau Friday morning, Gov. Evers says last week was especially good for getting those vaccines out.

Credit Erin Gottsacker/WXPR

“We’re making great strides,” he said. “[Thursday] was the highest number of vaccinations we’ve ever had in the state of Wisconsin. We had 78,000 in one day.”

How did this turn-around happen? How did Wisconsin go from one of the worst states in terms of vaccine administration to among the best?

Gov. Evers says the answer is partly related to vaccine supply, which has steadily increased over the past few months.

It also has to do with the number of vaccinators in the state.

“We have a great number of vaccinators. We have over 2,000 vaccinators in the state, approaching 3,000, which is really high compared to other states,” Evers said.

He said it took some of those vaccinators time to figure out the best way to schedule appointments, but now big pharmacies and smaller clinics have worked through most issues.

Evers also said demand for the vaccine is currently really high, but he worries that won’t always be the case.

“I do have concerns going forward,” he said. “We will reach a point where we have a group of hesitant people. We will need to get them, as many people possible, to get vaccinated.”

He credits health facilities like Wausau’s Bridge Community Health Clinic for catching people that fall through the cracks, and enabling as many people as possible to get vaccinated.

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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