‘There’s really a big mismatch’: UW Health continues to receive low vaccine supply, despite caring for large population of patients 65 and older

MADISON, Wis. — On Tuesday morning, UW Health’s vaccine dashboard showed the health organization only had 93 first doses available and 22,353 people scheduled to get the shot.

“It’s really apparent that there’s just not enough vaccine and there’s really a big mismatch,” said Dr. Matt Anderson, Senior Medical Director of Primary Care at UW Health.

UW Health did end up getting a shipment of 2,300 first doses later that morning, but some appointments later this week will still need to be rescheduled because of a lack of supply.

“It’s certainly not anything we ever would want to do. We certainly have been advocating and attempting to get more supply, but right now that’s the situation that we’re in,” said Anderson.

He said UW Health has been vocal with the state about how many older patients they have in hopes that DHS would give them more vaccine. Anderson said with 52,000 patients age 65 and older, UW Health cares for about 6% of the state’s population in that age range.

But DHS does not consider how many patients eligible for a vaccine a hospital system has when deciding where to allocate the state’s doses. It looks at geographic location and capacity instead.

At a news briefing on Tuesday, DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk explained that that’s why many pharmacies in Dane County didn’t get any vaccine this week.

“We had 505 vaccinators ask for nearly 290,000 vaccines. And so we had to make a lot of tough decisions. And one of the tough decisions we made is that anyone whose allocation would’ve been less than 50, did not receive vaccine,” said Willems Van Dijk. “We have a very high number of vaccinators in Dane County, which means not all of them are going to get vaccine because we need to save vaccine for other parts of the state.”

Although DHS also looks at how many doses vaccinators have the ability to give in a week, Dr. Anderson said UW Health can give more than double the amount of vaccines it’s being allocated.

“We could give, in a couple of weeks here, over 7,000 first doses and then continue to give our second doses. And right now the supply isn’t anywhere near touching our ability to utilize the vaccines in greater amounts,” said Anderson.

At this rate, if UW Health continues to get about 2,000 vaccine doses a week, he said it could be the end of April before every patient 65 and older has their chance to get vaccinated.