600K more Wisconsinites could become eligible for a vaccine next week. But there are still a lot of people eligible now who haven’t gotten a shot

MADISON, Wis. — Monday marks one week until the next big group of Wisconsinites could become eligible for a vaccine.

That group includes teachers and child care workers first, then some public facing essential workers like bus driver and grocery store workers. It also includes people in Medicaid long term care programs, non-frontline essential healthcare workers and people in congregate living such as shelters and prisons. DHS has estimated this group includes about 600,000 people.

But there are still a lot of people currently eligible who still haven’t been vaccinated.

When you look at DHS’s data, it’s hard to tell how many of the 800,000 people who have received at least one dose are frontline healthcare workers, police and fire employees or people 65 and older. Individual’s occupation titles and eligibility groups aren’t listed.

But we know that adding up DHS’s estimated population of each group, that’s almost 1,300,000 people who are currently eligible. That means almost 500,000 people who are eligible haven’t gotten their shot yet.

DHS said they wanted to be half way through one group before making the next group eligible.

If we assume all frontline healthcare workers, skilled nursing staff and residents, and police and fire employees have been vaccinated, that means we’re not yet half way done vaccinating all the people 65 and older.

“You have more people that you’re adding into the queue, it leads to longer delays as far as the timing, depending on supply,” said Dr. Matt Anderson at UW Health.

He said for smaller pharmacies, this just leads to more people vying for the same amount of appointment spots.

“It leads to a little bit more competition I guess as individuals are looking to get on those lists,” he said.

Even though 600,000 people will become eligible on Monday, Anderson said that doesn’t mean vaccine will be available for them on Monday.

UW Health isn’t quite through half of their patients who are 65 and older. Come Monday, those newly eligible patients will be scheduled after the more than 10,000 patients 65 and older who are still waiting for their shots.

“It’s not that people aren’t valued. It’s not that they’re not important. It’s not that we don’t understand that people are eligible, but eligibility doesn’t necessarily mean that we have the vaccine and the appointments, when we have previously eligible individuals still to vaccinate,” said Anderson.

He said if a UW Health patient who is currently scheduled is rescheduled, that’s because of a lack of supply — not because someone who is newly eligible is being moved ahead of them.