MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Members of the general public in Wisconsin likely won’t be vaccinated for the coronavirus until June, Gov. Tony Evers said in a letter made public Monday as he renewed his call for faster distribution of the vaccine from the federal government and state Republicans introduced a new response bill.
While Evers laid blame at the federal government for slow distribution of the vaccine, Republicans amped up their criticism of the midterm Democrat for not acting urgently enough.
U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, a Republican from Janesville, called Evers’ answers to questions about the state’s vaccination plan was a “pathetic excuse for a response” that showed a “stunning lack of urgency in getting people the life-saving help they need.”
Steil and Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin wrote to Evers in later December seeking more details about the state’s vaccination plan. Evers responded on Dec. 30, saying it can better plan for vaccine distribution if it had better vaccine supply estimates from the federal government farther into the future.
For now, Wisconsin is focused on vaccinating more than 500,000 health care workers and nursing homes residents. Assisted living residents were to be vaccinated starting in two weeks. Evers said that the plan for who will be in the next phase of vaccinations will be released Wednesday for public comment. That phase is likely to include people 75 and older, first responders, K-12 teachers and corrections workers.
Evers told Steil and Baldwin that vaccinating that group is expected to run from February through April. The third group, which includes additional essential workers and people with chronic conditions, will run from April to June. Evers said the public won’t start getting vaccinated until June.
Evers said Monday that this week for the first time demand for the vaccine from those that can administer it will exceed supply. The state needs 10,000 more doses to fulfill requests, Evers said. The state has been ramping up its vaccine infrastructure, but without increased supply from the federal government “the state is constrained in its efforts to ensure the quick and equitable distribution of this critical resource,” Evers said.