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Counties see different vaccination rates one week into vaccinating newest eligible age group

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Twelve- to 15-year-olds in Wisconsin have been eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine since last Thursday, and, statewide, about 8 percent have gotten their first shot. But Dane County is an outlier, having vaccinated nearly a quarter of kids in that group.

"[I'm] just insanely excited," Tess Ellens, Public Health Madison & Dane County's COVID-19 vaccine deputy, said. "It is so nice to be able to see, one, more and more people getting vaccinated, but two, young people interested in getting vaccinated."

Ellens said while Dane County is making good progress, that alone won't help end the pandemic.

"It's really important that our whole state and surrounding counties and surrounding states also continue to vaccinate at really high, good rates, so that we really can get out of this," she said.

Over one county to the west, the Iowa County Health Department is launching an initiative to vaccinate students in schools.

"Going into the schools means that it's a place where kids are already going, and there's not a special trip made," Keith Hurlbert, the Iowa County Emergency Management Director, said. "It's conforming to a schedule that's already in place, and I think it's just a matter of making it a little more convenient."

According to DHS data, seven percent of 12- to 15-year-olds in Iowa County have received their first vaccine shot.

"We're just kind of getting that program rolling really good here," Hurlbert said. "I think that in a week or two, you will see significant progress being made when you start looking at the data."

He said one possible reason Dane County has been able to vaccinate more young teens is the availability of the Pfizer vaccine.

"The Pfizer vaccine was available in Dane County, pretty readily, pretty easily," Hurlbert said. "[Before teens became eligible, it] was not seen out in the rural areas very often."

Ellens told 27 News she thinks the number of vaccination opportunities in Dane County has also contributed to the county's vaccination successes.

"People have options to go get vaccinated at a number of different locations," she said. "We just see that as a win."

Ellens and Hurlbert both said continuing to communicate with communities about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines will be key in maintaining this momentum.

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Caroline Dade

Weekend Evening Anchor/Reporter, 27 News

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