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Wisconsin officials plan for distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

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(WAOW) -- Multiple companies have announced early success with a COVID-19 vaccine.

State officials now have a plan for it's arrival, but it may be a while before you can roll up your sleeve.

"We are expecting by the end of 2020, but there's many steps involved before we can get to that point," said Stephanie Schauer, Division of Public Health Immunization Program Manager.

After the vaccine is approved, the first round of doses will be sent to the state. Certain groups of people will get first priority over others.

"In that first phase, we'll likely be focusing on frontline healthcare providers. So, the vaccines will be distributed through employee health," said Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Those living in long term healthcare facilities will also likely receive the first round of vaccines, meaning it may be several months before it is distributed to the general population.

"There are so many steps to get to that point and the first is we need the manufacturers, when they're ready, to submit that information to the FDA," Schauer said.

There may also be some challenges when it comes to rolling the vaccine out in rural parts of the state. Some of the vaccines have to be stored at ultra cold temperatures.

"There may be some challenges... but we're confident that with the variety that we'll be receiving, that we'll be able to overcome those challenges," Van Dijk said.

Officials are still urging people to social distance and wear that mask just a little bit longer.

"It will be the most extraordinary public health intervention our state has ever undertaken," Van Dijk said.

Natalie Sopyla

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