When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed to Wisconsin residents in a phased approach. Vaccine supply is limited and vaccinations are targeted to specific groups of people with a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. We ask that if you are able to work from home or do not have to interact with the public, please let your fellow Wisconsinites that have a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 get vaccinated first.
While some groups became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on March 1, vaccine providers should prioritize previously eligible groups before newer groups. Based on the amount of vaccine doses available, it will take months for all newly eligible groups to get vaccinated. Education staff are the first priority of the groups that became eligible on March 1.
Every community is different. Some places may be able to start vaccinating your group earlier than others. But everyone will eventually have the opportunity to get vaccinated.
Currently eligible groups in priority order
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; adult day service providers; paid and unpaid caregivers in Family Care, Family Care Partnership, and IRIS; paid and unpaid caregivers of children in special needs programs, including Children’s Waivers, CCOP, B3, Children with Medical Complexity, CCF WAM and Katie Beckett Medicaid)
- 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
- Massage therapists
- Nurse, including community settings
- Long-term care facility inspectors and oversight staff
- Long-term care facility personnel (including those that work in 1-2 bed adult family homes and as supported living providers)
- 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 (only those providing in-person support, including child welfare workers and adult protective services)
- 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”
Residents of long-term care
SDMAC’s definition of 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.”
Police and fire personnel, correctional staff
Police and fire personnel, including correctional workers are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which begins the first step into Phase 1B for Wisconsin.
Categories of job titles and settings include:
- Correctional facility personnel
- Probation and parole officers
- DNR wardens
Adults ages 65 and older
Starting January 25, adults ages 65 and older became eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. There are approximately 1 million Wisconsinites who are 65 and older. It will take time to vaccinate this population in Wisconsin.
Educators and child care
Starting March 1, all staff in in education settings became eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes:
- All staff in regulated child care, public and private school programs, out-of-school time programs, virtual learning support, and community learning center programs.
- All staff in Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCAs.
- All staff in preschool and Head Start through K-12 education settings.
- Faculty and staff in higher education settings who have direct student contact.
We anticipate vaccinating educators throughout March and April.
Individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs
Starting March 1, individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs became eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes:
- Members of Family Care and Family Care Partnership
- Participants in IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct)
- Children ages 16 years and older in the following programs:
Individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs in Wisconsin can anticipate receiving the vaccine in April and May.
Some public facing essential workers
Starting March 1, some public facing essential workers became eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes:
Utility and communications infrastructure
- Workers who cannot socially distance and are responsible for the fundamental processes and facilities that ensure electric, natural gas, steam, water, wastewater, internet, and telecommunications services are built, maintained, generated, distributed, and delivered to customers.
- Drivers who have frequent close contact with members of the public, limited to:
- public and commercial intercity bus transportation services
- municipal public transit services
- those employed by specialized transit services for seniors, disabled persons, and low-income persons
Food supply chain
- Agricultural production workers, such as farm owners and other farm employees.
- Critical workers who provide on-site support to multiple agricultural operations, such as livestock breeding and insemination providers, farm labor contractors, crop support providers, and livestock veterinarians.
- Food production workers, such as dairy plant employees, fruit and vegetable processing plant employees, and animal slaughtering and processing employees.
- Retail food workers, such as employees at grocery stores, convenience stores, and gas stations that also sell groceries.
- Hunger relief personnel, including people involved in charitable food distribution, community food and housing providers, social services employees who are involved in food distribution, and emergency relief workers.
Public-facing essential workers that live, work, or study in Wisconsin can anticipate receiving the vaccine in April and May.
Non-frontline essential health care personnel
Starting March 1, non-frontline essential health care personnel became eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. SDMAC defines non-frontline essential health care personnel as personnel who are not involved in direct patient care but are essential for health system infrastructure. These staff are often affiliated with hospitals, but non-hospital employee non-frontline employees are also included.
Categories of non-frontline essential health care personnel job titles and settings include:
- Public health
- Emergency management
- Cyber security
- Health care critical supply chain functions, including the production, manufacturing, and distribution of vaccine
- Support roles, such as cleaning, HVAC, and refrigeration, critical to health system function
Non-frontline essential health care personnel who live, work, or study in Wisconsin can anticipate getting the vaccine in April and May.
Congregate living facility staff and residents
Starting March 1, staff and residents of congregate living facilities became eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Some settings in this group may be non-voluntary or provide services to marginalized populations - meaning residents do not have the resources or choice to mitigate exposure. According to SDMAC’s guidance, congregate living facility staff and residents include those living or working in:
- Employer-based housing: Housing provided by an employer for three or more unrelated individuals that share bedrooms.
- Housing serving the elderly or people with disabilities: Residents of housing that meets the definitions of an adult family home, independent living apartments, community-based residential facility, residential care complex, state center for the disabled, mental health institute, and county-based center for the disabled.
- Shelters: Shelter provided to those who are homeless and/or in need of protection (for example, domestic violence shelters).
- Transitional housing: A project that is designed to provide housing and appropriate supportive services to homeless persons to facilitate movement to independent living when such facilities include shared bedrooms.
- Incarcerated individuals: Individuals in jails, prisons, and mental health institutes.
Facility staff and residents in congregate living settings that live, work, or study in Wisconsin can anticipate receiving the vaccine in April and May.
Next eligible groups
More than 700,000 Wisconsinites became eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine on March 1. It will take months for everyone who is currently eligible to get vaccinated. We are still making decisions about who will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine next. We are committed to the equitable and fair distribution of the vaccine and are following prioritization guidelines from the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee. This decision on next eligible groups will be announced soon and this page will be updated as soon as more information is available.
Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Wisconsin has over 1,200 COVID-19 eligible vaccinators across the state. Much like your flu vaccine, there are 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 community based vaccination sites. Local health departments are coordinating many of the local options.
Frequently asked questions about who can get the COVID-19 vaccine
Why are we starting new groups when we have not finished others?
It is very important that we vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible. By starting groups while finishing others, we can make sure that no vaccine goes to waste and those who are at risk have the best chance of getting a vaccine sooner.
Where can I learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Visit our COVID-19 weekly newsletter webpage to sign up for weekly updates and see past versions.
- 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.
How will I know when my group is eligible?
This page and DHS social media pages will always have up to date information on who is eligible.
My partner, spouse, or roommate is eligible to receive the vaccine. Am I eligible too?
No. Eligibility applies only to the individuals who belong to eligible groups. This webpage will provide further updates on future eligibility groups.
I am undocumented. If I’m part of a group that’s currently eligible, can I get the vaccine?
Yes, if you are part of a group that is currently eligible, you can get the vaccine. President Biden has stated that all people in the U.S. – regardless of their immigration status – can access the vaccine. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also supports vaccine access for undocumented immigrants. Wisconsin vaccinators may not require proof of residency or state identification to get the vaccine.
Do I need to be a permanent resident of Wisconsin to get the vaccine in Wisconsin?
The Department of Health Services’ agreement with CDC requires us to “distribute or administer vaccine without discriminating on non-public-health grounds within a prioritized group”. DHS has determined that in order to protect the public health of the residents of Wisconsin, vaccine allocated to the state should be administered to those who live, work, or study in Wisconsin. Vaccinators may target their vaccination effort to residents of their particular jurisdiction or constituency, however, may not turn someone away who lives, works, or studies in Wisconsin.
I am public-facing, but am not on this list. Am I eligible?
Not at this time. Those eligible to receive vaccine today, and the next groups that will become eligible, can be found on this page. Please open the gray bars below the groups for additional detail about each priority population. Stay tuned to the DHS website for further updates on future eligibility groups.
What can I do while I wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing you from getting sick with COVID-19, and medical experts are still learning about if whether vaccinated people can spread COVID-19. In order for vaccines to be able to protect us, we need to protect vaccines by reducing spread and giving the virus less opportunity to mutate.
Vaccines are just one tool we have to stop the spread of COVID-19. Stopping the spread requires all the tools we have available. Together, vaccination and good public health behaviors will offer the best protection from COVID-19. Stop the spread of COVID-19 by continuing 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.
Are student and substitute teachers included under the educators and child care group?
Yes. All staff in public and private school programs are eligible.
What is considered "regulated" child care?
Child care regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF). Learn more about who is considered a child care worker.
Are public defenders eligible to receive the vaccine?
Public defenders are considered eligible under "congregate settings," as their work brings them into congregate settings or necessarily places them in close contact of less than 6 feet with clients placed in congregate living settings. Other criminal justice and court system professionals who do not routinely enter congregate living settings will be eligible at a later date. We will continue to announce additional eligibility groups as more vaccine becomes available.
Are the employees who work in back-office functions of the next eligible groups (for example: utility, public transit, food supply) also eligible to receive the vaccine?
With the narrow exceptions named in the “non-frontline health care essential personnel” category, only those who are at significant risk due to public-facing positions or working conditions that require close contact with others with considerations of frequency, intensity, and duration of contact, and ability to mitigate, should receive vaccine. Employees who are able to work from home, perform most tasks outdoors, or have limited engagement with the public are asked to delay vaccination until supply is robust.
My organization performs a function that was deemed critical by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices or is defined as critical infrastructure by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. Am I eligible to receive the vaccine?
We worked through a public process to prioritize populations to receive vaccine. We prioritized a smaller subset of individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine given the low volume of vaccine our state is receiving. For that reason, the populations we prioritized do not always overlap with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency lists.
Are people that produce food packaging eligible to receive the vaccine in the next eligible groups?
No, individuals that produce food packaging are not eligible to receive vaccine at this time. This webpage will provide further updates on future eligibility groups.
Are in-person staff (for example: nursing home inspectors or OSHA compliance officers) that provide oversight or are required by law or regulation to inspect work sites or residences of currently eligible individuals eligible to receive the vaccine?
Yes, mandated oversight functions that conduct their work on-site and in-person are eligible to receive vaccine at the same time the industry they oversee is eligible.
Are all veterinarians eligible to receive the vaccine in the next eligible group or are only livestock veterinarians eligible in the next eligible group?
Only livestock veterinarians who care for animals specifically as part of the "food chain supply" category are eligible.
I work as a chef, server, or host in a restaurant. Am I eligible to get the vaccine as part of the "food chain supply" category?
No restaurant employees are not part of the food chain supply category.
Do landlords fall under congregate living group to be vaccinated?
No. Landlords are not included under congregate living groups.