State health officials announced Monday that more than 1 million Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and that it’s possible the vaccine will be open to the general public ahead of the May 1 target date.
With more than 17% of the state’s population fully vaccinated and nearly 30% with at least one dose of the vaccine, Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the state Department of Health Services, said the state still plans to open up the vaccine to the general public on May 1, but said it’s likely that general vaccinations could begin sooner.
“I anticipate that very soon we’ll be making an announcement that it will be sooner than May 1,” Willems Van Dijk said during an online session Monday hosted by the Milwaukee Press Club and WisPolitics.com.
Willems Van Dijk said the state remains on pace to vaccinate 80% of eligible adults by July 4, but added that date could also be in flux due in part to those who may remain hesitant to receive the vaccine.
“That means 80% of adults have to keep raising their hands,” Willems Van Dijk said. “I suspect it’s going to take us a bit longer as we continue to reach out to people who may not be the ones who want to be first in line.”
Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement Monday more than half of Wisconsinites 65 and older have been fully vaccinated and nearly three in four have received their first dose. The state ranks fourth nationally for the number of doses administered per 100,000 people age 64 and older.
All told, the state has administered more than 2.7 million doses of the vaccine, averaging about 50,000 doses per day over the past week.
The state health department reported 296 new infections Monday and three more deaths. A total of 6,601 people have died from the disease.
Willems Van Dijk said despite the number of vaccinations residents are encouraged to continue to follow public health practices including wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance.
“We don’t want to give people a false sense of security,” she said. “Our focus has really been on messages about how we all need to assume COVID-19 is present and we need to take action no matter what in order to behave in ways to reduce transmission of disease.”
Currently, people ages 16 to 64 with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for complications from COVID-19 are eligible for vaccination.