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Workers wait for vaccine despite Phase 1B eligibility

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MADISON (WKOW) - Starting Monday, more people will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin.

The next phase includes teachers, grocery store workers, 911 dispatchers and non essential health care workers, as well as people enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, mink farmers, prison inmates, and staff and residents in shared housing.

While technically they're all eligible, people in Phase 1B will be prioritized.

Vaccinators can start with teachers and childcare workers on Monday.

At Pick'N Save on the west side of Madison, workers are in near constant contact with the public, without vaccine protection.

"As excited as we are to be in Phase 1B, we have to wait until there's plenty of vaccine availability and we get the go-ahead from DHS to go into that phase," James Hyland, VP of Communications at Roundy's Supermarket, said.

Grocery store workers are third on the priority list, behind teachers, child care workers and Medicaid long-term care residents.

At Pick'N Save, Hyland says the in-house pharmacies already have the vaccination infrastructure.

"I think we've done 38,000 flu shots or over that amount during the season," he said. "We've done over 20,000 antibody tests, so we're geared up to do the vaccinations."

They've already done 6,000 COVID-19 vaccines for people in phase 1A.

Hyland says once vaccine supply picks up, they're capable of doing 6,000 vaccinations a week.

But some smaller grocers don't have a pharmacy.

At Metcalfe's, owner Tim Metcalfe tells 27 News they're in talks with a vaccinator that typically does their flu shots, to do onsite clinics.

But since the vaccine supply isn't high enough, he doesn't foresee that happening for at least a month.

And even having a pharmacy isn't enough.

A Hy-Vee spokesperson tells 27 News they're still waiting to get allocated doses to start giving vaccines.

Hyland says everyone is in a similar position.

"I know we've said this before but we ask for your patience," he said. "Vaccine flow will increase and hopefully soon, but be patient, we'll be there for you."

Utility workers are also considered essential and in this next phase.

An MG&E spokesperson tells 27 News they're still communicating with staff but they'll likely be getting their vaccines through their health care providers as availability ramps up.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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