MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccination rate increased relative to other states over the past week and demand continues to far exceed supply, with roughly one dose delivered to vaccinators for every four requested.
Last week alone, nearly 300,000 doses were requested by Wisconsin vaccinators, but the federal government delivered only about 77,000 doses, Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said Tuesday. That’s about 27% of the amount requested.
“I know it sometimes feels like a broken record to hear us saying over and over again, ’We need more vaccine, we need more vaccine, we have people who want it, we have vaccinators ready to give it,’” Willems Van Dijk said. “But that is the bottom line: We need more vaccine.”
Still, Wisconsin is making progress in how many people are vaccinated.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Wisconsin 29th as of Tuesday in terms of the percentage of the population that has received at least one dose. It had been as low as 44th last week. Wisconsin had administered 578,335 doses of vaccine to date, with 107,860 of those being second doses, Willems Van Dijk said.
“For sure, we’re improving,” she said. “We’re on a roll, we’re moving forward, we promised you we would.”
According to the CDC, Wisconsin has vaccinated 7.5% of the population, which puts it just behind the national average of 8%. But the CDC numbers lag the state data by three or four days, Willems Van Dijk said. Wisconsin has vaccinated about 65,000 more people than the CDC has reported, she said.
“I promised you we would improve, and we’re improving,” she said in response to a question about the state’s ranking. “... It’s the story of slow and steady progress right now.”
Wisconsin vaccinated more than 200,000 people last week and the state is receiving about an 18% increase in its vaccine allocation, mostly the Moderna vaccine, Willems Van Dijk said. That higher level should remain in place for the next two weeks, further helping to increase vaccination rates, she said.
The state is currently vaccinating front-line health care workers, people in nursing homes and anyone over age 65, The next priority group, which includes teachers, isn’t anticipated to be eligible until March 1. Willems Van Dijk said it was too soon to know whether that date will be moved up or pushed back, but a decision will be made in mid-February.
“We’re making great progress. ... but there are still populations who haven’t heard anything who are in the 65-plus population,” she said. “There are lots more people to receive vaccination in that group.”
New cases of COVID-19 continued their gradual decline on Tuesday, with the seven-day average at its lowest since mid-September. In total, Wisconsin has seen 544,260 confirmed cases and 5,937 deaths.
Wisconsin’s death count is 33rd per capita and the number of new cases over the past two weeks is 40th, according to Johns Hopkins.