On Monday, individuals age 16 and older with certain medical conditions will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, a week earlier than previously expected.
This group was originally set to be eligible on March 29, but the date was moved up due to availability of appointments and increased vaccine supply.
This phase is expected to include more than 2 million people throughout Wisconsin. Based on data from the state Department of Health Services (DHS), 35% of Wisconsinites are overweight based on BMI, and 32% are obese. This means that roughly 67% of Wisconsinites will be eligible based on weight alone, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
They will join health care workers, residents and staff in long-term care facilities, police officers and firefighters, people 65 and older, teachers and other school staffers and some essential workers.
“Our vaccinators across the state are doing great work to get folks vaccinated and get this done, and because of their good work, Wisconsin continues to be a national leader in getting shots in arms,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “Moving up eligibility for this critical group will help us get over the finish line and sooner, and get us back to our Wisconsin way of life.”
This eligibility group includes individuals with medical conditions associated with an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. These medical conditions include:
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Down syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids or use of other immune weakening medicines
- Liver disease
- Neurologic conditions, such as intellectual disabilities and dementia
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30-39 kg/m2)
- Overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2)
- Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
- Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2 or more)
- Sickle cell disease
- Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
Wisconsin will use the honor system for who is eligible based on health conditions, meaning that proof of one of the listed medical conditions will not be required to receive the vaccine.
DHS anticipates that Wisconsin will be able to expand eligibility by May 1 to include all individuals age 16 and older. DHS officials said Thursday that Wisconsin may have enough supply to immunize 80 percent of Wisconsinites age 16 and older by the end of June, according to WPR.
“Your patience and persistence and the hard work of our vaccine team and our network of vaccine providers across the state. It’s all paying off,” DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said.
A full list of eligible groups can be found here.