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State announces more groups approved for COVID-19 vaccine

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COVID-19 vaccine

MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin Health officials announced the next groups that will qualify to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning on March 1.

The groups, announced in a press release Tuesday morning from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services includes the following:

Education and child care

● All staff in regulated child care, public and private school programs, out-of-school time programs, virtual
learning support, and community learning center programs
● All staff in Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs.
● All staff in preschool and Head Start through K-12 education settings.
● Faculty and staff in higher education settings who have direct student contact.

Medical and long-term care

● IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self Direct)
● Family Care
● Katie Beckett and Children’s Long Term Care Waiver, when the member’s age allows them to qualify for

Public-facing essential workers

● 911 operators
● Utility and communications infrastructure: Workers who cannot socially distance and are responsible for the fundamental processes and facilities that ensure electric, natural gas, steam, water, wastewater, internet, and telecommunications services are built, maintained, generated, distributed, and delivered to customers.
● Public transit: Drivers or employees (supervisor or maintenance person who rides the bus, or a public-facing service agent) who have frequent close contact with members of the public, limited to:
• Public and commercial intercity bus transportation services.
• Municipal public transit services, including municipal or county contracted shared-ride service providers.
• Those employed by specialized transit and paratransit services for seniors, disabled persons, and low-income persons.
● Food supply chain
• Agricultural production workers, such as farm owners and other farm employees.
• Critical workers who provide on-site support to multiple agricultural operations, such as livestock breeding and insemination providers, farm labor contractors, crop support providers, and livestock veterinarians.
• Food production workers, such as dairy plant employees, fruit and vegetable processing plant
employees, and animal slaughtering and processing employees.
• Retail food workers, such as employees at grocery stores, convenience stores, and gas stations that
also sell groceries.
• Hunger relief personnel, including people involved in charitable food distribution, community food and housing providers, social services employees who are involved in food distribution, and emergency relief workers.

Non-frontline health care workers

Staff who perform essential roles within health care organizations by maintaining cybersecurity; perform cleaning functions; scheduling; critical HVAC functions related to maintaining proper airflow in health care settings and refrigeration functions related to vaccine storage; health care critical supply chain functions, including those involved in the production, manufacturing and distribution of vaccine; public health; and emergency management.

Congregate living

● Employer-based: Housing provided by an employer for unrelated individuals who share living quarters.
● Housing serving the elderly or people with disabilities: Adult family home, community-based residential facility, residential care complex, state center for the disabled, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICFs/IDDs), mental health institute, and county-based center for the disabled.
● Shelters for those who are homeless or in need of refuge
● Transitional housing: A project that is designed to provide housing and appropriate supportive services to homeless persons to facilitate movement to independent living when such facilities include shared bedrooms.
● Incarcerated individuals: Individuals in jails, prisons, and transitional housing.

Mink farmers

While the inclusion of those working in "mink husbandry" may seem bizaar at first glance, there has been evidence of outbreaks of the disease among mink farms, including in Wisconsin.

Vaccine rollout

"We’re going to keep getting shots in arms as quickly as possible and as soon we have vaccines available," Gov. Tony Evers said in a written statement. "In the meantime, we have to continue working together to prevent the spread of this virus by wearing face coverings and limiting gatherings with others while we vaccinate folks across our state."

The state said that the March 1 date of beginning vaccinations for those groups could change depending on supply of the vaccine. Currently, the state is getting about 70,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine each week, health officials said.

"I know everyone is eager to get protected from COVID-19. With the current allocation from the federal government, it will take considerable time until we have enough vaccine for everyone," said Department of Health Services Interim Secretary Karen Timberlake. "Until then, we have tools available right now to help slow the spread."

She went on to make the case for continuing social distancing practices.

According to state data last updated Thursday, Wisconsin had administered 345,017 vaccines. Another 100,100 doses were listed as "In Transit."

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