When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed to Wisconsin residents in a phased approach.
The vaccine distribution timeline shows phases, and identifies which groups of people are expected to receive the vaccine, within each phase. The State of Wisconsin is committed to the equitable and fair distribution of the vaccine, and is following prioritization guidelines from the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC). Many of the priority populations are still pending ACIP and SDMAC recommendations.
It is important to remember that as we begin vaccine distribution, vaccine supply will be limited and vaccinations will be targeted to specific groups of people with a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. It will take time to reach all people within each target population and phase. However, there is not a hard start or stop for each phase. As vaccine supply and the number of vaccinators increase, phases for distribution may overlap.
Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Currently eligible populations
- Phase 1A
- Frontline health care personnel
- Residents in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities
- Phase 1B
- Police and fire personnel
Future eligible populations
- Phase 1B
- Adults ages 65 and over (starting January 25)
- SDMAC has made recommendations for other Phase 1B priority populations. The recommendations are expected to be finalized soon.
Where do eligible populations get vaccinated?
Wisconsin has over 1,200 COVID-19 eligible vaccinators across the state. Much like your flu vaccine, there will be options for where you get your COVID-19 vaccine. People will be vaccinated at many places including: health care providers, pharmacies, local health departments, places of employment, and mass vaccination clinics. Local health departments are coordinating many of the local options. Remember Wisconsin does not have enough COVID-19 vaccine to vaccinate all eligible populations at this time.
Frontline health care personnel
According to the SDMAC’s guidance, the definition of frontline health care personnel is: “individuals who provide direct patient service (compensated and uncompensated) or engage in healthcare services that place them into contact with patients who are able to transmit SARS-CoV-2, and/or infectious material containing SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Because the vaccine is still limited, vaccinating entities should follow SDMAC's prioritization criteria when vaccinating among Phase 1A health care personnel.
Categories of health care job titles and settings include:
- Anesthesia related team members
- Behavior health providers, including psychologists, therapists, counselors
- Certified nursing assistant, nursing assistant, nurse aide, medical assistant
- Clinical ethicist
- Dental services, including dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistants
- Direct care personnel, for example, people who provide direct care to patients, including in their homes (for example, personal care assistant, home health worker)
- Emergency medical responders (EMR), including emergency medical technician/paramedic including all levels of EMRs
- Environmental services, food & nutrition, buildings & grounds in patient care setting
- Funeral home worker, coroners, and medical examiners
- Health care trainees
- Hospice workers
- Nurse, including community settings
- Long-term care facilities staff
- Pharmacist/pharmacist assistant
- Phlebotomist and laboratory personnel
- Physician assistant/nurse practitioners
- Physicians (MD/DO – all settings)
- Public health workers providing vaccines and testing for COVID-19
- Radiation therapy technologists (RTTs)/radiologic technologists (RTs)
- Respiratory therapists
- Security personnel
- Spiritual care provider
- Social work, case management, Child Life staff
- Therapy services, for example, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy
- Transportation services to and from health care settings, for example, testing sites, dialysis centers, ambulatory care
- Other health care personnel who have CDC defined exposure
- Other professionals and lay people who provide services as defined in “Vaccine Distribution Subcommittee: Phase 1A Guidance for Vaccinating Entities to Prioritize COVID-19 Vaccine in Priority Population”
- Primary vaccinator: Employers
- If you work within a health care system, you should expect to receive information from your employer about receiving the vaccine.
- Other options: If you are an EMS worker or not affiliated with a health care system, please visit your local health department’s website.
Residents of long-term care
SDMAC’s definition residents of long-term care is: “adults who reside in facilities that provide a variety of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently.”
- Primary vaccinator: Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program
- If you are a resident of a nursing home or assisted living facility, you will likely be vaccinated through the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program. CVS and Walgreens pharmacies have been contracted to offer onsite COVID-19 vaccination services. This program began vaccinating patients at skilled nursing facilities on December 28 and will begin vaccinating residents of assisted living facilities on January 25.
- Enrollment into the Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care Program has closed. If you are unsure if your facility is enrolled please email DHSCOVIDVACCINATOR@dhs.wisconsin.gov and provide the name and address for the facility. For facilities that are not enrolled in the program please contact your local health department for information.
Police and fire personnel
Police and fire personnel, including correctional workers are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which begins the first step into Phase 1B for Wisconsin.
- Primary vaccinator: Local health departments
- Local health departments will lead the coordination for the vaccination of police and fire personnel. Local health departments will work in partnership with local vaccinators, including health care systems and pharmacies. To ensure everyone that is eligible for a vaccine has access to a provider, DHS will work alongside local health departments in coordinating with police and fire associations.
Adults ages 65 and older
Starting January 25, adults ages 65 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. There are approximately 700,000 Wisconsinites who are 65 and older and Wisconsin currently receives around 70,000 first-dose vaccines per week from the federal government. It will take time to vaccinate this population in Wisconsin.
- Primary vaccinators: Health care providers and pharmacies
- Other options: DHS and local health departments are coordinating additional vaccination options throughout the state. We ask for everyone's patience during this time as vaccination efforts ramp up.
Future eligible populations
SDMAC has made recommendations for other Phase 1B priority populations. The recommendations are expected to be finalized soon.
What can I do while I wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
While many Wisconsinites continue to wait for their turn to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, we urge you to do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19. Continue to stay home, wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and frequently wash your hands.
We encourage everyone to get their yearly flu vaccine. While the flu vaccine will not protect against the COVID-19 virus, it can protect you from the flu. By doing so, we can help keep health care resources available for those with COVID-19.
Where can I learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Sign up to receive weekly email updates about the COVID-19 response in Wisconsin.
- For data about allocation, shipment, and administration of COVID-19 vaccines, visit our vaccine data dashboard. This dashboard is updated weekly on Tuesdays.
- See frequently asked questions for vaccine on our COVID-19: Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions webpage.