Teachers may move to the head of the class to receive vaccinations

State dedicates doses for school employees that will be managed by county under plan that calls for all local educators to be protected by mid-April

A HEALTH CARE WORKER administered a Covid-19 vaccine shot at a Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department clinic at the Ozaukee County Fairgrounds in Cedarburg last week. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

While frustrations with getting vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus are likely to continue for most people, health officials say local educators will likely get their shots by mid-April under a plan announced this week by the state.

The state Department of Health Services announced that a separate vaccination track is being created for teachers that would be administered by local health departments. The hope is that all teachers and other school staff members — who become eligible to receive vaccinations beginning Monday, March 1 — will receive their vaccine shots by mid-April, the state DHS said in a memo.

“In order to assure vaccination for currently eligible populations and affirm educators and child care workers as a priority on March 1, DHS is establishing a separate allocation process and dedicated vaccine supply for K-12 educators in public and private schools,” the memo to health departments and school districts said.

A dedicated supply of vaccine will be issued on March 15 just for the county’s 5,000 or so educators, allocated by school district based on information received from local health departments, the memo continued.

“It’s still evolving how exactly this will work,” Washington Ozaukee Health Department Interim Director Tyler Weber said. His department will be responsible for getting the vaccine to educators, with some of it being administered through pharmacies or healthcare providers.

He said his department is currently in the process of collecting information from school districts to gauge exactly how many doses are needed.

Doses for educators would be in addition to those already available to others in the so-called 1B group, most notably those who are 65 or older.

Others becoming eligible on March 1 for vaccinations include an unknown number of food service and other “essential” workers. 

Frustrations and anger have risen in recent weeks as thousands have scrambled without success to be vaccinated.

“This is the most serious situation. We have people who are afraid for their lives,” Ozaukee County Supr. Lew Herro told the county Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday. “I’m getting a lot of phone calls. People are scared.”

Herro told Weber of his own travails, saying he was unable to get vaccinated in Ozaukee County but was able to get a shot on short notice at a pharmacy on Milwaukee’s south side over the weekend.

“This doesn’t make sense,” he said.

“People are justified to be frustrated,” Weber said. “Everyone will be vaccinated. It will just take time.”

Although his department received 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week — up from the 200 it had received the week before — it was nowhere near enough to meet the “incredible” demand, Weber said.

Last week, the department shut down its online vaccination registration link after its 200 doses were claimed in 50 seconds, locking out nearly 8,000 people still trying to get through. 

That came a week after the website crashed because of the swarm of people trying to get through.

The department won’t reopen the link until the 2,000 or so people already on its waiting list receive their vaccinations, Weber said.

“It will reopen. We just don’t know when,” he said.

Vaccinations also are available to residents through pharmacies, clinics and hospitals, but how many doses are available through those outlets is unknown, Weber said.

This week, for the first time, Weber’s department learned from the state who the other vaccinators are in Washington and Ozaukee counties.

There are 15 vaccine providers between Ozaukee and Washington counties, he said.

“That opens the door for there to be more coordination, especially come March 1, because we have thousands more people coming on line,” Weber said.

So far, about 15.5% of Ozaukee County residents have received at least one of the two doses of vaccine necessary to be fully vaccinated. 

About 43% of the 11,000 county residents who are 65 and older, and who are supposed to take priority over educators, have received their first dose, Weber said.

While educators will have a stream of vaccine dedicated solely to them, Weber said older residents will remain a priority for his department.

He said, however, no priority has been given by the state to people with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, and compromised immunity.

Some Health Committee members wondered how the state decides how many doses each county gets and whether Ozaukee County is getting its fair share.

“It’s not entirely clear how it is being allocated,” Tyler Weber said. “I don’t see any indication counties are intentionally getting more or less” than other counties.

Meanwhile, the health department listed only 15 active Covid-19 cases in Ozaukee County on its website Tuesday, a far cry from November when there were more than 1,000 active cases.

Weber said the drop might be because many people have contracted the virus and are now immune, have been vaccinated or because fewer people are being tested.



Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login