Under the next round of eligibility for the Covid-19 vaccine announced by Wisconsin health officials on Thursday, a single metric of having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or above will qualify almost 70% of Wisconsin’s adult population for the vaccine starting March 29.
A range of other medical conditions, 20 in total, form the basis for Phase 1C in Wisconsin. The group includes more than 2 million people, and anyone with one or more of the conditions listed who is 16 or older will qualify for the vaccine at that time. Conditions include asthma, cancer, heart conditions, obesity, liver disease, Type 1 and 2 diabetes, pregnancy and more.
Do I need to prove my eligibility?
No. Nobody will need to produce medical documentation that they have one of the medical conditions that qualify them to get a vaccine under the state’s next phase, health officials said Thursday.
If opting to get the vaccine through a pharmacy or community vaccination site, some vaccinators may require an individual to sign a simple form. Others will simply have to attest to having one of the eligible conditions.
Officials said they will update the statewide vaccine registry website to reflect the new groups, which will ask a person signing up to check one or more boxes of the medical conditions that make them eligible.
“This is not about policing this,” Wisconsin Department of Health Services deputy secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said. “This is about creating entry to a vaccine system for people who have these conditions, in the easiest way possible.”
Where will I be able to get my shot?
Eligible 1C individuals will have a variety of options come March 29. Some health care providers may use the same system they used for the 65+ population, officials said, reaching out to people in their care based on their medical records reflecting eligible conditions.
The state will not mandate that any conditions within 1C come ahead of another, but is allowing health care providers to use factors including age, number of conditions, and level of condition severity to determine who gets scheduled first.
Individuals will also have the option of community vaccination sites, local pharmacies, and their local public health departments.
How soon after March 29 can I get a shot?
The group includes an estimated 2 million individuals or more, and officials warn there may need to be prioritization within each group based on severity, age, the number of conditions an individual has, and whether they live in a community that’s been disproportionately impacted by the virus.
“Due to the limited supply of vaccine and with this next eligible group likely adding more than 2 million individuals in Wisconsin eligible for the vaccine, providers may need to prioritize individuals within this population who are at higher risk,” a press release from the DHS stated.
If I was eligible in Phase 1A or 1B, will I lose priority once 1C opens up?
No. People falling into the first two categories who still need to get a vaccine come March 29 will still be able to get one, and they will still be prioritized ahead of 1C, officials said.
Frontline healthcare workers, long term care, police and fire, people over 65, educators, some essential workers, and prisoners will all remain ahead of 1C in priority when scheduling vaccines.
I don’t fit into any of the groups for 1A, 1B, or 1C. When will I become eligible?
Sometime in May under existing guidance, but it’s not clear yet on when.
The state did not include additional groups of essential workers in the next round of eligibility despite CDC recommendations, choosing instead to base eligibility off a broad array of other medical conditions. Anyone who doesn’t fit into these categories and doesn’t qualify under another group will be waiting until May, when the state plans to open eligibility up to the general public.
There’s no set date for that yet, although President Joe Biden on Thursday evening called on all states to open up eligibility to everyone starting May 1. Earlier on Thursday, state health officials said factors influencing that timeline would include the number of doses reaching Wisconsin weekly from the federal government, as well as the percentage of people in existing eligibility groups who have completed vaccinations. Generally, Willems Van Dijk said, they are waiting until existing groups are at least 50% vaccinated before opening up a new group.
Why weren’t other essential workers included in this new round?
According to Willems Van Dijk, the sheer number of people (more than 2 million) qualifying under the conditions announced for Phase 1C provided a large enough group to work with and represented the advice of the CDC and DHS medical advisors.
Many essential workers not qualifying by their job would qualify under the health condition metrics, she said in a press conference Thursday.
“It is based on the best evidence we have about which medical conditions make someone more vulnerable to severe illness or death,” Willems Van Dijk said. “If you’re lucky enough not to have one of these conditions, you will be lucky enough to be included in May.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that both people with underlying medical conditions as well as other groups of essential workers like manufacturers, restaurant workers, media and more be included in Phase 1C.
What are the medical conditions that qualify me to get the vaccine starting March 29?
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Down syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
- Liver disease
- Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30-39 kg/m2)
- Overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2)
- Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
- Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2 or more)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
- Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
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