As more COVID-19 vaccinations are being shipped to Wisconsin, questions are emerging about how doses should be rolled out and administered in the arms of people in various risk groups that are being prioritized in phases by the state.
We at AARP Wisconsin would like to thank Gov. Tony Evers, the Department of Health Services, local public health officials, and health care providers for their continued efforts in the distribution of vaccines into our communities and for following the science in prioritizing Wisconsinites age 65-plus in the current phase of those who will have access to doses.
And we need to ensure residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities continue to receive vaccinations as soon as possible to prevent further loss of life.
Clearly, any vaccination plan must prioritize the most vulnerable. Opening up eligibility to those 65-plus was a great first step. Next, we urge state leaders to add Wisconsinites age 50-64 to the next phase.
According to the CDC, people ages 50 to 64 with COVID are four times more likely to end up in the hospital than their younger counterparts, and worryingly, at 30 times greater risk for death. Nationally, Americans over the age of 50 account for nearly 95% of all COVID deaths.
We must ensure that every Wisconsinite who wants a vaccine can receive one. Our leaders must continue to be transparent and responsive about where and how vaccines are being given.
We favor the creation of a statewide registration system that includes both online and toll-free phone options, so that all Wisconsinites can have the peace of mind of knowing they will be notified when they become eligible to receive their shots, and where they can go to get them.
We know that Wisconsin residents in all age groups and risk categories are anxious to get their shots and patience is at a premium right now. All indications suggest that the rate of vaccinations will increase over time.
As such, we remind everyone that these vaccines are offered at no charge, but you need to bring along your Medicare or insurance card to your vaccine appointment. Those who have no health insurance will not be turned away and will also receive free vaccinations.
To help our members and all Wisconsinites, AARP has created a guide that will be updated throughout the year to reflect current information on Wisconsin’s vaccination plans, explaining how distribution will work, eligibility, the distribution timeline, vaccination locations, and other key details. The state guide is available at www.aarp.org/wivaccine. We wish for everyone’s health and safety with so much hope on the horizon.
Lisa Lamkins is federal issues advocacy director with AARP Wisconsin in Madison.