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Wisconsin’s vaccine priority sparks criticism: “A real disappointment”

Another wave of Wisconsin residents will soon be eligible to receive their vaccine photos against COVID-1


Confusion and criticism are already growing as to which health professionals say priority should be given to new groups.

When life turned upside down, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Sarah Knowles remained patient.

“We were locked in our house and we did our best,” Knowles said.

When Knowles learned this week that her son Matthew might have to wait another month to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, her patience ran out.

“We had March 1 as this really big date, which we are looking forward to, and now we suddenly don’t have a firm date,” Knowles said.

Sarah Knowles with her son Matthew

Looking back on March 1, eligibility for the vaccine is being extended to Wisconsin residents who are enrolled in long-term Medicaid programs, such as Matthew, who has cerebral palsy and cognitive impairment. The photos will also be available to people in education, to public essential jobs and to general living conditions.

“Based on current allocation numbers, it will take about two months to vaccinate these groups,” said Julie Williams Van Dyck, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health.

As the supply of vaccines is not enough for everyone, the state instructs vaccinators to give priority to school and children’s staff.

“Certainly these other groups are not forgotten in this phase of eligibility,” said Williams Van Dyck.

But Knowles looks just like people like her son are forgotten.

“Medicaid’s long-term care group has a much better chance of hospitalization,” Knowles said.

Knowles originally planned to get Matthew vaccinated next week through the local health department. Now he is unable to receive a shot.

“They just said thank you for being your son’s advocate and we’re sorry we can’t change the order,” Knowles said.

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This creates more frustration for the Knowles family and so many others who feel they have been patient enough.

“Giving priority to one group over another now, literally in three or four days, was a real disappointment,” Knowles said.

Knowles said Matthew’s doctor with Froedtert was also unable to take it next week for the vaccine because Froedtert was still working on 65-year-old patients.

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