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VACCINE Q&A: Why are manufacturers not being prioritized?

The NBC15 Vaccine Team is answering your questions about essential workers and eligibility.
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 2:32 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The NBC15 Vaccine Team is answering your questions about essential workers and eligibility. You can find a full list of NBC15 Vaccine Team Q&A’s HERE.

CLICK HERE to submit your own question.

Answer: Wisconsin DHS decided the group was too large to be included in the next round of those eligible. There are over 500,000 workers in the manufacturing industry across the state.

On Thursday, DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Williems Van Dijk answered this question in a media briefing. She says DHS consulted with the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee.

“We shouldn’t put in a group so big if we would never be able to vaccinate them for months and months,” said Williems Van Dijk. “We just felt like continuing to create eligibility by occupational group is confusing to everyone.”

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is urging Governor Evers and his administration to add manufacturing workers to the list of those eligible.

In a statement released last week, WMC President and CEO Kurt Bauer says the move is unfair to essential workers.

“Unlike some businesses, the hard-working and dedicated ‘shop floor’ employees of manufacturing companies haven’t been able to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, as essential employees, they showed up to work day after day in order to buoy the Wisconsin economy and produce the critical products our state and nation needed – including a variety of personal protective equipment for hospitals, businesses and others.

But despite their contribution to our economy and the elevated risk exposure many manufacturing employees face, they will have to wait until May to be in line with everyone else to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Wisconsin. This is simply unfair.”

DHS also says a large number of these employees will qualify on Monday, when those with pre-existing medical conditions become eligible.

“Many of those employees are now eligible because of chronic health conditions,” said Willems Van Dijk, “We welcome them coming into the vaccine queue.”

DHS says its spoken with Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce and is asking employers to let workers know they may qualify next week due to chronic conditions.

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