Teachers and child-care workers expecting the COVID-19 vaccination next week will have to wait at least an extra two weeks due to a vaccine shortage, according to Public Health Madison and Dane County.
Vaccination sites for teachers were initially expected to open the first week of March at the Alliant Energy Center, but due to a shortage educators will not be prioritized until at least March 19, according to an email sent Wednesday night to schools and child care providers.
The Public Health department requested 7,000 doses from the federal government for the week of March 1 and 7,000 for the next week — specifically intended for K-12 staff — but these requests were never fulfilled, according to Public Health spokesperson Sarah Mattes.
Teachers and child care workers will technically become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under Wisconsin’s updated guidelines this next Monday, but eligibility does not ensure vaccination. If teachers and child care workers want to get the vaccine before March 19, they will need to find an alternate clinic, pharmacy or health care provider with available doses.
Those enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline essential health care personnel and facility staff/residents in congregate living settings will also be eligible for the vaccine starting March 1.
According to the Department of Health Services, teachers can expect to receive vaccinations during late March and early April.
This announcement comes as Madison public schools prepare to resume in-person instruction next month.
Madison public school students will still return to in-person instruction despite the delay in teacher vaccinations, starting with kindergarteners on March 9, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. First-graders and second-graders will return March 16 and four-year-old kindergarten students on March 23.
Dane County received only 12% of the vaccine doses it requested this week, according to a Public Health news release from Thursday. Although Public Health can administer vaccines to teachers as soon as March 1, they intend to focus on other priority groups.
“We are still working through thousands of people on our 65-plus list,” said Mattes in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal.
The Public Health department will continue to prioritize vaccinating frontline healthcare workers and those over 65 over the next two weeks, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.