The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has approved University Health Services to begin vaccinating eligible members of the campus community under the state’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
Most individuals at the University of Wisconsin–Madison who meet Phase 1a eligibility should have received confirmation via email from UHS or will receive it shortly. The initial phase of vaccination includes frontline health care workers and others in direct contact with COVID-19 patients, or in direct contact with the virus that causes COVID-19 or virus specimens.
DHS has not yet informed UW–Madison when it will receive its allocation of vaccine, nor which vaccine it will receive, but eligible individuals will receive an email to their wisc.edu email accounts with further instructions once this information is available. Eligible UW–Madison employees who have dual appointments at UW Health should have received more information from the health system.
“We appreciate DHS’s work to approve UHS as a vaccinator for COVID-19 and look forward to providing vaccine to our campus community as it becomes available,” says Patrick Kelly, a physician and interim director of medical services at UHS. “We know it could be many months before all of our students and employees can be vaccinated but this is an important and hopeful first step.”
As of late December 2020, the Food and Drug Administration had approved two safe and effective vaccines under Emergency Use Authorization, clearing them for use against the virus that causes COVID-19. Both are mRNA vaccines, which work by priming the body’s immune system to recognize and fight the virus. To be most effective, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines must be administered in two doses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, demand for the vaccines is expected to outpace early supply and DHS says that it could take several months to vaccinate everyone eligible under Phase 1a.
Eligibility criteria are established by DHS according to guidelines from the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the CDC, along with the Wisconsin State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee. UW–Madison is working with DHS to determine who will be eligible in later stages of vaccination, including Phases 1b and 1c.
UW–Madison students and employees, including those who are vaccinated, should continue to take steps to limit the spread of the virus by wearing face coverings when they go out, maintaining physical distance, avoiding gatherings with people they don’t live with, and washing their hands frequently.