By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Assembly Republicans grilled health officials with Gov. Tony Evers’ administration Thursday about the lagging pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in Wisconsin, saying the process is a cumbersome mess.
The Assembly’s health committee held a hearing to learn more about the state’s distribution process. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, began the proceeding by telling state Department of Health Services Assistant Deputy Secretary Lisa Olson that lawmakers don’t know what to tell constituents desperate for a shot. The DHS’ projections that vaccinations for the general public won’t begin until summer are unacceptable, he said.
“The process that’s in place just seems overly bureaucratic and cumbersome,” Sanfelippo said. “We need to tell the public here’s the day when we expect to do this group, here’s the date we when expect to do that group. The minute we get a vaccine from the federal government it should be in and out the next day and in someone’s arm.”
Olson didn’t have answers on how to speed up distribution. She insisted that the state is simply not getting enough doses from the federal government. Doses are allocated on a weekly basis, making it impossible to plan ahead, she said.
“Folks are moving as quickly as they can during the course of the week,” she said. “But I hear you. We very much want to be moving faster.”
According to an update Thursday on the DHS website, 607,650 doses have been allocated to Wisconsin so far. About 373,000 have been shipped to the state. About 176,000 have been administered, according to the website. Olson told the committee that the number of doses administered as of Thursday morning was actually about 195,000; about 26,000 of those were second doses. Both the Pfizer and Moderna versions of the vaccine require two doses spaced several weeks apart.
Wisconsin is home to about 5.8 million people.