MADISON (WKOW) -- The Assembly's committee on health will vote on a bill next week that would require state health officials to come up with a plan to begin vaccinating all citizens by March 15.
The chair of that committee, Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R - New Berlin) said Friday he believed it was a reasonable demand of the Department of Health Services because of the anticipated emergency use approval of more vaccine options in the coming weeks.
"Based on the information we are hearing from the federal government with the addition of new vaccines available, I think that's very doable," Sanfelippo said.
While DHS officials have said their limited by shipments from the federal government that have been smaller than expected, Sanfelippo said he wanted to ensure vaccinators in different parts of the state could move on to all residents, even if vaccinators elsewhere were still working through high-priority groups.
"We have a lot of areas around the state that are already going through their priority groups and are gonna be in a much better position to start vaccinating the general public quicker than some of the other areas," he said.
The bill would also require DHS to move all adults 60 and older into the highest prioritization category for receiving the vaccine.
State health officials announced Tuesday adults 65 and older were now eligible to start receiving the vaccine as it becomes available through their primary care doctors and pharmacies.
DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk urged caution throughout the week not to flood health care providers with appointment requests.
She said with a population of about 700,000 residents 65 and older, it would take about two months to cover those residents with the state's current rate of 70,000 first doses received per week.
Democratic lawmakers have said it would be best to defer to DHS and its medical advisory board on when to determine vaccines can reasonably reach the general public, should the state continue prioritizing its most vulnerable residents.
"Well I think [vaccinating the general public is] a great plan. If only we had vaccines available to us here in the state of Wisconsin," said Sen. Melissa Agard (D - Milwaukee). "We can pass legislation but actually implementing legislation, that's a different ball of wax."
The bill will is scheduled to go up for a vote Tuesday before the health committee. It will also vote on a bill that would authorize pharmacy technicians and pharmacy students to administer the vaccine.