Trying To Answer, “When Is It My Turn?”: COVID-19 Vaccine Information Available on South Milwaukee Website

The South Milwaukee and St. Francis Health Department has launched an information page about COVID-19 vaccinations. Check it out here, and learn more about the rollout plan, and to link to a number of other resources about the COVID-19 vaccination effort. From the page …

What phase are we in right now?

We are currently in Phase 1A which means we are vaccinating health care personnel and those that live and work in long term care facilities.  There are an estimated 400,000 individuals statewide that are eligible to receive vaccine in Phase 1A. In addition to Phase 1A, the State has indicated that starting Jan. 18, 2021, law enforcement and fire personnel may also be vaccinated.

If you are an individual that is a healthcare worker or an organization that employs healthcare workers you can register at to be matched to a vaccine provider. You can also contact the South Milwaukee/St. Francis Health Department for more information at 414-768-8055.

Next up will be phase 1B, which includes front-line essential workers and people ages 75 and older, as defined by the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee.

What is the timeline for moving through the phases?

The State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services has indicated that the State will move through the phases together, which means that once Phase 1A is complete we will move to Phase 1B as defined by the SDMAC. Although vaccine is slowly becoming available, we all still need to take the necessary precautions to prevent getting or spreading COVID-19. Please stay home when you’re sick, continue to wear masks, limit indoor gatherings, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands often. The combination of a vaccine and prevention measures will help us as we slowly return to “normal.” 

Where can I go for the most up to date information about vaccines and vaccination data?

Things are changing quickly when it comes to the rollout of the vaccine, including the potential for nationalizing the effort under President-Elect Joe Biden.

I thank local public health departments like ours for navigating through these dificult times, and leading where others aren’t. With little to no federal help on a rollout plan — even a framework for who should get shots in arms when — it has been left to individual states, and each one seems to be doing this differently, with some moving much quicker than others. All of it seems disjointed.

I’m deeply disappointed with the rollout in Wisconsin — specifically about the lack of a statewide vaccination plan. This should have been developed months ago, with clear answers to the most basic questions — who gets shots in what order and when — and a plan to communicate that clearly and consistently to the public.

Instead, we don’t even have a final recommendation for who is in the next phase, while some areas move to that next phase. This is leaving people to rightfully wonder, “When is it my turn?”

Fingers are being pointed, and politics are being played (of course). Vaccines wait in storage while the virus rages in some parts of the country, with a new variant prompting dire predictions.

We deserve better. We need consistency and coordination at the state and federal levels. We need leadership. We need accountability. We need a plan. Instead, we are getting exactly what we have throughout the pandemic — a too-often piecemeal approach to an effort that demands the exact opposite.

The good news is coming locally. Public health departments stepping up as they have throughout the pandemic to lead where others aren’t. They are working together to get shots in arms in the South Shore and county, just as they did around testing and with other efforts to slow the spread the virus.

Local health departments are saving lives. As we surpass 2,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Milwaukee, they know we must be unified to confront this historic challenge, so we can return to normal with as little illness and death as possible. Others should learn from them.

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