Wisconsin moves educators, child care workers to front of COVID-19 vaccine line

MADISON, Wis.– Teachers don’t need to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine to start teaching their students in-person again.

“Schools can be safe as long as you’re using those five strategies,” the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said.

Willems Van Dijk is referring to making, physical distancing, good hand hygiene, covering your cough and keeping things clean.

Now, the state has the ability to offer even more protection.

“(Vaccines) are a layering over those important mitigation strategies, but an important one,” Willems Van Dijk said. “We want to protect that workforce.”

Educators and child care professionals are jumping to the front of the line to get vaccinated in group 1B.

“We know that teachers work everyday with a population that is not able to be vaccinated because of their age,” Willems Van Dijk said.

That’s about 225,000 people in Wisconsin, and the state thinks it will take all of March and part of April to get through them.

Public Health Madison and Dane County is asking the state for 14,000 doses to vaccinate teachers at the Alliant Energy Center, but the state won’t be able to fill the entire request right away.

“Nobody is getting all of the vaccine they asked for,” Willems Van Dijk said.

It won’t stay that way. DHS said the weekly number of doses Wisconsin gets will increase and they hope to help local health departments get shots in arms as fast as possible.

“We’ll make a master plan over the next six weeks, so everyone will know when they’re getting vaccine for their community and school districts,” Willems Van Dijk said.

DHS recommends vaccinators ask to see name badges or pay stubs to ensure people are part of the eligible professions.