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VACCINE TEAM Q&A: When can people with health risks get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 7:08 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Many viewers asked NBC15: When will people under the age of 65 who are considered high-risk be eligible to get the shot?

NBC15 learned as of now, there is no definitive timeline. The deputy secretary for the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services, Julie Willems Van Dijk, said it won’t be until at the earliest April before we know more about if that particular group will become eligible.

“It will take more time, but everyone in our state will have the opportunity to get vaccinated,” she said.

63-year-old Mount Horeb resident Patricia Latzke was one of several viewers who reached out to the NBC15 vaccine team looking for answers to this question.

“I feel sort of like a prisoner in my own house because I am afraid to go out, even with a mask,” she said.

Latzke said she has an autoimmune disease and takes immunosuppressant drugs. She described navigating vaccine eligibility as challenging.

“Anybody that has a pre-existing condition, that’s on an an immune-suppressant drug, should be able to get the vaccine,” she said.

Willems Van Dijk said they do not know exactly when those more susceptible to getting sick under the age of 65 will be able to step in line. She said it takes at least a month to get get through vaccinating at least 50 percent of the current eligible group. At that point, they can announce who will be included next.

“People with other comorbidities will certainly be a consideration for us as we move to that next population group, and I anticipate that would likely happen sometime in mid to late April,” she said.

As of Thursday, frontline healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents, first responders and adults ages 65 and over can get the shot. Eligibility for the next group, including teachers and grocery store workers, starts March 1.

Latzke said she hopes answers come sooner, rather than later.

“Our lives are still on hold until we can do something,” she said.

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