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Border states vaccinating elderly faster

Empower Wisconsin | Feb. 2, 2021

Some elderly Wisconsin residents had access to the COVID-19 vaccine faster than their Badger State peers thanks to proximity to neighboring states.

The issue underscores the disaster that has been the Evers administration’s vaccine distribution efforts.

As Wisconsin Public Radio reports, Michigan began administering doses to people 65 and older on Jan. 11, a full two weeks before Wisconsin began offering the shot to its older residents outside nursing homes.

Wausau-based health system Aspirus during the first week in January included Iron County, Wisconsin residents in its vaccine appointment schedule at its clinic across the border in Michigan, registered nurse and Iron County public information officer Zona Wick told the news organization.

According to the story:

Clinics that serve patients in Wisconsin and across state lines are navigating different sets of processes and guidelines as they administer the COVID-19 vaccine, including Aspirus. The health system, which serves around 50 clinics in Michigan and Wisconsin, began giving shots about a week earlier at sites in Michigan, according to senior vice president Jeff Wicklander.

“The vaccine stays within the state that it was allocated to,” said Wicklander. “But, if we have individuals who live in Wisconsin, but received care in Michigan, we vaccinate those individuals. Their care is in Michigan, and we vaccinate them as such.”

Michigan also has established wider drive-through vaccination sites.

As Empower Wisconsin has reported, the state Department of Health Services has been slow in signing off on priority groups determining who may receive the COVID-19 vaccinations. It has also bungled vaccine distribution and has, according to health officials and lawmakers, failed to communicate its plans and actions.

As of Monday, the state had been allocated 846, 300 doses from the federal government, according to DHS. Of the 641,150 the state has ordered, about 552,000 doses had been given.

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