‘More and earlier’: Dane County receives first Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipment for educators

PHMDC expected 7,900 doses next week, got 11,900 Friday
Johnson Johnson Vaccine

MADISON, Wis. – For Public Health Madison & Dane County, Wisconsin’s first shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccines came early Friday, with more doses than they had originally anticipated.

PHMDC was expecting 7,900 of the one-shot doses, which will be used to vaccinate educators, including teachers and childcare workers. They now have 11,900 doses ready to go starting Tuesday.

“We’re excited,” said Chief of Operations Doug Voegeli.  “That’s 11,900 more people that will be vaccinated in Dane County.”

In the coming weeks, PHMDC is focusing solely on getting educators vaccinated at the Alliant Energy Center mass vaccination site, collaborating with area health care providers.

“If we’re looking at 6,000 doses in a week, it takes a lot of people to do that,” Voegeli said.

UW Health, UnityPoint Health-Meriter and SSM Health said they’re not getting any of the Johnson & Johnson first shipment, though they’re all part of the collaboration with the county to vaccinate educators. Mo Kharbat, regional vice president of pharmacy services at SSM Health, said they expect to get a Johnson & Johnson allocation when the state gets additional shipments later in March.

The first about 48,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines coming to Wisconsin are earmarked specifically for teachers, according to the state’s Department of Health Services.

“After reviewing plans submitted by local health departments and school sites, we will be able to meet everyone’s first request, meaning the majority of our teachers and K-12 staff will be able to get vaccinated this month,” DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said in a media briefing Thursday.

The goal is by March 21st for Dane County educators.

“One shot and they’re done,” Voegeli said. “(It’s) super convenient.”

That means getting teachers back in the classroom more quickly and helping everyone get back to normal.

“They’re so important to the normal operation and allowing us to get back to normal business,” Voegeli said.

COVID-19 testing will be shifted to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Alliant Energy Center complex and all eight lanes in the New Holland Pavilion will be open for vaccinating, an expansion that will help as more people become eligible.

“All that means is we can go through a lot more people a lot faster,” Voegeli said. “We can get through this tier and into the next tier.”

Voegeli hopes that in as soon as the next three or four weeks, there will be enough supply that eligibility can really open up.

“We’re right there,” he said. “We’re so close to having the vaccine supply that will enable us to be able to open up much wider and start looking at all people to start getting a vaccine.”

Willems Van Dijk said DHS plans to announce the next groups eligible in Phase 1C next week.

After vaccinating educators, PHMDC will resume its normal vaccine appointments at the Alliant Energy Center. Second dose appointments are still ongoing.