Wisconsin DHS: 50% need ‘encouragement’ to get coronavirus vaccine

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Public health managers in Wisconsin say there’s work to be done in convincing people to get the coronavirus vaccine.

“I think it’s going to be a little bit harder once we get over 50% to 60% [vaccinated], and we may need to encourage a lot of people to get vaccines,” DHS deputy secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said Thursday.

DHS’ goal is to get to 80% of people in the state vaccinated by the summer.

Willems Van Dijk said there should be enough vaccine doses to hit that goal, but the desire to be vaccinated is another story.

On Wednesday, the city of Milwaukee shifted its vaccine focus. Milwaukee has been trying to vaccinate public school teachers ahead of the March 15 return to class, but Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said not enough teachers signed-up to get a shot.

There were 800 available doses on Tuesday, and nearly 1,000 available doses on Wednesday.

As a result, Milwaukee’s health department on Wednesday announced that Phase 1b eligible residents, including police officers, bus drivers, grocery store workers, people in nursing homes, and people in jail would now be added to the city’s vaccine registry.

“It may take a little bit more time,” Willems Van Dijk said. “I fully anticipate that we will be vaccinating well throughout the summer.”

DHS on Thursday reported that more than 1.8 million vaccine doses have been administered so far. That includes 1.1 million first doses, and over 647,000 people in the state who’ve been fully vaccinated. That is just over 11% of people in the state.

Willems Van Dijk said she is confident that there will be enough vaccine doses by June to get one to every person in Wisconsin who wants one.

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