MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers, with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), announced March 30 that everyone age 16 and over will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 5. Wisconsin is among the nation’s leaders in efficiency of vaccinations. With increased vaccine supply and an accelerated vaccination pace in recent weeks, the state is able to push the eligibility date four weeks earlier than expected.
“We knew all along our COVID-19 vaccination program would be a massive undertaking, and we’re proud Wisconsin is currently leading the country in these efforts and that we’re now able to give all Wisconsinites 16 and older the opportunity to get vaccinated,” said Gov. Evers. “This marks a major milestone in our state’s fight against this virus and gets us closer to overcoming this pandemic and bouncing back together. Thank you to all the folks in public health, vaccinators and staff helping make this possible.”
While everyone over 16 will be eligible starting April 5, some areas of the state may have a higher demand for vaccinations and may have waitlists. Vaccine providers will prioritize anyone previously eligible such as public-facing essential workers and people with medical conditions.
There continue to be many options available for getting vaccinated, including through DHS, federal, and local community-based vaccination clinics, pharmacies, healthcare providers, local and tribal health departments and employers.
More information about each of these options is available on the COVID-19 where to get vaccinated page. Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for individuals age 16 and 17.
On March 31, Pfizer released clinical trial information showing 100% efficacy in children ages 12-5. The trial included 2,260 participants, and the efficacy rate is higher than that of those 16-25. The company, which partnered with German-based lab BioNTech, planned to submit its results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency in the coming weeks, seeking authorization for emergency use.
The next round of trials will be for children ages 5 to 11, which began last week. Potentially, by the end of the summer the vaccine could be available for all children over 6-months of age.
Moderna, another vaccine manufacturer already approved for people 18 and over, already has done trials with children aged 12-18 in December 2020. It currently is running a trial on children ages 6 months to 12 years old. Johnson & Johnson, the third available vaccine in the United States, is also moving onto trials of the vaccine in children.
The end goal for all three companies is to have approval for vaccine use in children before the fall start of the 2021-22 school year in August and September.
To find a local vaccine provider visit the COVID-19 vaccine provider map or visit https://vaccinefinder.org. Individuals can also call the toll-free vaccine hotline at 1-844-684-1064 with questions or help registering for a vaccination appointment. The hotline is also available in Hindi, Hmong, Somali and Spanish.
Certain vaccine providers are using the COVID-19 Vaccine Registry. Anyone can register for an appointment using the COVID-19 vaccine registry. After registering, users will be notified when they are able to schedule an appointment. Appointments are based on whether a vaccine provider in one’s area uses the registry for scheduling and has available vaccine, and their place on the waitlist. Other vaccine providers may use their own scheduling system.
“We have built-up a strong network of vaccine providers across the state. Every community is different, some providers may have openings and others may have waitlists but I assure you that anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one in the coming weeks,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to reach 80% community immunity in Wisconsin.”
Since the first shipment of an U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized COVID-19 vaccine arrived in mid-Dec., Wisconsin continues to be a national leader in administering vaccine quickly and has administered over 2.7 million doses. As of March 29, more than one million people have been fully vaccinated and more than a quarter of Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
As more Wisconsinites get fully vaccinated and COVID-19 disease rates remain high, it is critical for everyone to continue good public health practices. Masking up, staying physically distant, washing hands and getting tested continue to be crucial tools for protecting everyone against COVID-19. People who are fully vaccinated can review recently released post-vaccination guidance.
For information, resources, and data related to Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccination program, visit the COVID-19 vaccine webpage.