More than one-third of Dane County’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, including almost 90% of individuals over the age of 65, according to statistics released by Public Health.
The most recent data indicates that more than 190,000 residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination and nearly 113,000 individuals are currently considered fully vaccinated.
The county website indicates that officials are seeking to fully vaccinate between 60% to 90% of the total Dane county population in order to achieve herd immunity.
Vaccination efforts have been particularly successful among elderly residents, who county officials have prioritized for inoculation. Data shows that 90% of individuals aged 65 and older have been at least partially vaccinated.
Currently, those eligible for vaccination include the elderly, healthcare workers, food service/production workers, educators, residents with certain pre-existing conditions, and some other essential public-facing workers, according to the county health website.
In the future eligibility requirements are expected to expand to allow more residents to receive the vaccine, with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announcing plans to begin vaccinating all individuals 16 and up.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this past Thursday, urged local residents to monitor if they meet the eligibility requirements and to sign up to receive the vaccination as soon as possible.
“The eligibility is pretty broad right now, but I really encourage people to go to Public Health Madison Dane County's website to see the eligibility list,” Rhodes-Conway stated. “People can sign up through their health care provider, they can go to one of our pharmacies that are vaccinators, they may be eligible to come here to the Alliant Energy Center and get their shot. There's lots and lots of options.”
Rhodes-Conway also emphasized that residents should take any available version of the vaccine and avoid waiting to receive their preferred dose.
“The best vaccine is the one that you can get as soon as possible,” Rhodes-Conway stated. “Personally, I am delighted to be getting the [one-dose] Johnson & Johnson vaccine today because I will be protected sooner ... The fact that we have three vaccines all created in such a short time period, that are all so effective, is a scientific achievement that cannot be overstated.”
Public health officials have also announced Wednesday that Dane county had only 12 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 related complications, the lowest number since medical personnel began tracking the data last year.
Local medical staff relayed their relief that the number of COVID-19 cases has declined so dramatically in recent months and reflected on the conditions in hospitals earlier in the pandemic.
"We've gone entire shifts without diagnosing COVID-19," said Dr. Jeff Pothoff. "It's such great news. It just sounds like such a simple thing to say that hospitalizations are really low, but it means a great deal to those of us in healthcare."
Pothoff also stated that despite the recent increase in vaccinations and decrease in COVID-19 cases, residents should still exercise caution in order to limit the number of future infections as much as possible.
"There's things we can do now that we couldn't do before, and that's okay," he said. "But let's not make a mistake and go completely back to normal and then find ourselves having to deal with this in the next few months. I just don't even want to think about, you know, having it be November, December again."