Wisconsin health boss says ‘hard part’ of vaccinations just beginning

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Vaccinating the first 2 million-or-so people in Wisconsin was the easy part.

Wisconsin’s public health boss says the hard work of vaccinating most of the rest of the state lies ahead.

Department of Health Services’ Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk on Wednesday said nearly 45% of the state has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. But she admitted that vaccination numbers have slowed significantly.

“The urgency we saw in people wanting to get the vaccine in December, and January, and February, and March, and April was largely related to people who were very concerned about contracting COVID,” Willems Van Dijk said.

Wisconsin saw vaccines rise steadily from the end of December until the first week of April. DHS’s numbers show vaccine doses administered peaked at just over 425,000 doses for the week of April 4. Since then, the numbers have dropped. DHS reported that last week’s distributions barely topped 197,000 doses.

“Now, as we say, the hard part begins,” Willems Van Dijk said. “We [have to] find a lot of different, creative ways to do pop-up clinics, to bring vaccines where people are at, to have more conversations with folks who are making-up their minds about the vaccine.”

Willems Van Dijk said Wisconsin is preparing to vaccinate children as young as 12. She said the state could begin offering shots to tweens and teens within 24 hours of the CDC’s authorization.

Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday said getting people vaccinated will determine when Wisconsin can get back to normal.

“Summer is right around the corner, and getting vaccinated will allow us to get back to all of the gatherings and activities that we all miss,” the governor said. “Whether it’s a summer family reunion, a concert with your favorite band, a Fourth of July celebration, our ability to do so safely and without masks depends on as many people as possible getting vaccinated.”





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