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Wisconsin Making Headway Vaccinating Teens Against COVID-19

Apr. 23, 2021 1:20p

(WPR)---In just over two weeks, Wisconsin has vaccinated 21 percent of the state’s teens age 16-17 against COVID-19 since they became eligible April 5.

"I think we’re making good progress," said Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk on Thursday.

To boost that number further, health officials will be teaming up with the Department of Public Instruction to offer vaccinations at schools and will offer a new, easier way to find all locations where COVID-19 vaccine is offered.

That online tool, called VaccineFinder, was set up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unlike the current system used by the state, users will be able to identify which sites have what kind of vaccine.

Currently, Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine approved by federal regulators for use in children. The drug manufacturer has a pending request to use the same vaccine in children as young as 12.

There is urgency to vaccinate younger people who have helped fuel outbreaks in neighboring states like Michigan and Minnesota. Cases in those states have climbed because of COVID-19 variants that make the virus more contagious.

New cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin have been declining recently, but DHS Chief Medical Officer Ryan Westergaard said progression of the disease in Michigan is a month ahead of Wisconsin and that "we’re not out of the woods."

In Wisconsin, demand for vaccine still exceeds supply, but that gap is narrowing as more people get vaccinated. So far, 41 percent of Wisconsin residents have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Many people have shared their experiences of getting vaccinated online, which Willems Van Dijk said could encourage others to consider getting vaccinated. But she, along with consumer watchdog groups, have cautioned against posting the official vaccination card, which contains personal data.