As COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up in Wisconsin, spread of the virus is still a concern.
The Department of Health Services is reporting another 537 cases and two more deaths Thursday.
The 7-day average of new cases is up slightly at 479 cases per day.
DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk says that’s definitely better than November when we were averaging more than 6,000 cases a day, but it’s still not great.
“I think in a way we’ve been lulled into a sense of security here in Wisconsin, because we had it so bad, but just having it doesn’t seem too awful to us,” said Willems Van Dijk.
Another concern is the state is seeing more cases of the variants of the disease.
Both the variants first found in England and South Africa have been found in Wisconsin.
Both spread more rapidly and easily.
Willems Van Dijk says it’s all the more reason to remain cautious, especially with people thinking about traveling for spring break.
“We don’t want to bring more variants into Wisconsin. And we don’t want to take five steps back just when we’re at the cusp of things getting a lot better. If we can give ourselves a little bit of patience, keep delivering 300,000 vaccines a week over the next 8-10 weeks, we’ll be much farther ahead than we are right now,” said Willems Van Dijk.
There’s been no significant changes in hospitalizations across the northern central region.
Right now, more people than ever are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin.
As this next group becomes eligible, some vaccinators are still working their way through previous groups.
In Oneida County, 78-percent of people 65 and older have gotten at least one dose.
Dr. Stephanie Schauer is the Division of Public Health Immunization Program Manager. She says it’s great seeing that age group get toward that 80-percent mark and fits with what the state sees for other immunizations.
“I think when we look at influenza vaccination, the 65 and older is typically the group that has the highest immunizations rates that we know. It’s good that these are the folks that are really, truly motivated. They are at higher risk. I think we do recognize that there may some challenges with some of the younger folks,” said Schauer.
Schauer says she think they’ll have to work harder at getting younger people vaccinated.
It can be harder to get them shots around their work schedules.
She says younger people may also have a perception that they’re not as vulnerable to COVID so it’s not as big a priority to get the vaccine.
“But I’m hoping with that initial, the success with the 65 and older is that individuals see that they’re parents or grandparents have received vaccine and that they’re doing well and that they’ve feeling that hope and feeling that they have that protection and that they will go ahead and continue to seek out vaccinations for themselves,” said Schauer.
About 27 percent of Wisconsinites have gotten at least one dose.
To help further vaccinate people, the state is opening a new community-based vaccination clinic in Marathon County.
It will open April 6th at Northcentral Technical College.
This is the fourth community-based vaccination clinic in Wisconsin and the first in the North Central region.
Initially, the clinic plans to administer at least 400 doses per day and has the ability to do up to 1,000 doses per day.
The clinic will first schedule people on the Marathon County Health Department’s waitlist with priority for those 65 and older, educators, and child care staff.
After that, the clinic will begin scheduling appointments for anyone currently eligible for the vaccine.
The clinic will be open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
You can find other places and resources for getting vaccinated on WXPR’s COVID-19 Vaccination Information page.
If you’re currently eligible of the vaccine, you are encourage to sign up for an appointment.