State health officials announce 20 medical conditions eligible next for Covid-19 vaccine

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has released the medical conditions for individuals age 16 and older who will qualify for a Covid-19 vaccine starting March 29. The list includes 20 conditions such as asthma, cancer, heart conditions, obesity, liver disease, Type 1 and 2 diabetes, and pregnancy. (See the complete list at the bottom of this article.)

The group includes an estimated 2 million individuals or more, and officials warn there may need to be prioritization within each group based on severity, age, the number of conditions an individual has, and whether they live in a community that’s been disproportionately impacted by the virus.

“Due to the limited supply of vaccine and with this next eligible group likely adding more than 2 million individuals in Wisconsin eligible for the vaccine, providers may need to prioritize individuals within this population who are at higher risk,” a press release from the DHS stated.

State health officials estimate that everyone in Wisconsin age 16 and over will become eligible for the vaccine in May. President Joe Biden has previously stated that there will be vaccines for everyone by the end of May, and announced this week a planned partnership to purchase another 100 million doses from Johnson & Johnson. Currently, Wisconsin health officials say they expect to see an increased supply of the J&J vaccine starting at the end of the month and into April.

“All three COVID-19 vaccines available are incredibly safe and effective at preventing infection, serious illness, and death.  These vaccines are saving lives. That is why we are committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to get protected against the virus,” said DHS Interim Secretary Karen Timberlake in a press release.

The medical conditions included come from recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as work previously done by the state’s vaccine advisory subcommittee, officials said. However, the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee has not convened since the state put them on pause in February after it finished providing guidance for phases 1A and 1B in Wisconsin. The DHS sidestepped questions in a press conference earlier this month about whether they planned to reconvene the board for issuing phase recommendations for 1C, saying they were having “conversations” with board members and other medical experts.

Currently, eligible 1B groups for the vaccine include educators, child care, grocery workers, other non-frontline health care workers, and people (including prisoners) living in congregate living facilities. Those are in addition to health care workers, police and fire, long term care, and people over 65 in Wisconsin. Almost 20% of the state’s adult population has received their first dose, including about 65% of the state’s 65+ population.

“We urge those eligible and at highest risk to get vaccinated because each shot in arms means we are one step closer to getting back to our Wisconsin way of life,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a prepared statement.

Complete list of conditions:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cancer
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Liver disease
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30-39 kg/m2)
  • Overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2 or more)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)

 

This coverage will be updated