Wisconsin Vaccine Rollouts and Increased Eligibility
With an increase of vaccines in an effort to curb COVID-19 cases, the Beloit Health System announced that a new round of first-dose vaccines will become available. Vaccines are currently accessible to eligible groups by appointment through the Beloit Health Systems. Beginning March 22, these eligible groups will be expanded to include more people.
Previous groups, who can still schedule their vaccinations if they have not gotten them already, include frontline health care personnel, residents of long-term care, police and fire personnel, correctional staff, and adults aged 65 and older.
New qualifying groups have expanded to include education and childcare staff, individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers such as 911 operators, public transit, and grocery store employees, non-frontline essential health care personnel, facility staff and residents of congregate living settings. Appointments for vaccines can be made by patients of the BHS by going through the patient portal at www.beloithealthsystem.org/myhealth, or calling 608-364-5663. Vaccination locations include your local health department, pharmacies, or community-based vaccination clinics, as well as other locations depending on which group you fall under.
March 22 also allows for people over the age of sixteen with certain medical conditions, which have a greater risk of infection, to qualify for the vaccine. These individuals include people with asthma, cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes type 1 or 2, hypertension or high blood pressure, liver disease, sickle cell disease, or are immunocompromised or overweight.
For those making appointments, the BHS is asking that people bring proof of their eligibility to their appointment. This would include a form of employee identification (i.e. employee badge), a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services, a letter from your employer defining your role in one of the above groups, a medical Long-Term Care Program identification card, or a long term care/congregate resident letter.
In the state of Wisconsin, beginning on May 1, all individuals who are over the age of sixteen will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. Anyone who falls into this category can get their vaccination from a doctor or health care provider, pharmacy, community-based vaccination clinic, or a local health department.
For those in school or not in Wisconsin full time, take note that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines require two doses for the vaccine to be most effective and offer the best protection. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose. If you are receiving a vaccination which requires more than one dose, you must return to the facility you got your first vaccine from. Make sure you know which vaccine you have to ensure full protection. To be fully vaccinated means that it has been at least two weeks since your final dose of the vaccine.
Despite vaccine rollouts, it is still imperative that everyone remains wary, and even if you have been vaccinated you still need to wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. The vaccine is but one way to stop the spread of COVID. Social distancing and being smart about your actions still plays a huge role in preventing the pandemic from worsening.
More information about COVID-19, eligibility, and the vaccine can be found at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov. Wear your masks, and stay healthy.