KENOSHA COUNTY ⏤ On Tuesday, county officials announced plans for the first phase of local distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, which began nationally Monday.

However, the general public can expect to have to wait to receive the vaccine until the second or third quarter of 2021. 

Collaborative effort

The county’s Tuesday announcement stated the county Division of Health is actively working with several partners to coordinate the local distribution efforts. These partners include the Kenosha County Emergency Operations Center, health care providers and others.

The planning process unveiled Tuesday, however, is one first implemented at the federal level, according to the release. That information was then shared with state health departments who then were to share it with local partners. 

Health officer calls for patience

While the distribution time is unknown, the state Department of Health Services has made it clear that supplies of the vaccine locally are expected to be scarce. 

“I know that the COVID-19 vaccine is a long time coming for many of our residents, and I understand that there are many questions to which we don’t yet have answers,” said Kenosha County Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit in a released statement. “I ask for the public’s patience as we receive and react to federal and state guidance. 

“As always, the Kenosha County Division of Health will be here to serve our health partners and the general public as we round another bend in the pandemic.”

Initial vaccine supplies scarce

The state DHS is the agency that will oversee and determine allocations of the vaccine. Determinations will be based on guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the state Disaster Medical Advisory Committee.

Under initial state and federal distribution plans:

  • Vaccination distribution will occur in phases starting with 1A, which officially began Monday. Those slated to receive the vaccine in Phase 1A include health care personnel and longterm care facility residents and staff. Initial vaccine allotments will not be available to the general public during Phase 1A.
  • Those primarily responsible for administering vaccinations in Phase 1A will include hospitals and health care providers (for their health care workers) and pharmacies (for longterm care facility providers and residents). Additionally, the state DHS has issued a request for services for vaccination clinics.
  • The Kenosha County DHS will help to fill gaps for Phase 1A vaccine delivery as resources allow. The Division of Health does not expect to receive any vaccine or to vaccinate until January 2021 at the earliest. Officials do not yet know the exact timing and parameters for distribution.

Subsequent phases

According to the state DHS, Phase 1B will include essential workers (still to be defined by the state). Likewise,  Phase 1C will include people age 65 and older. It will also include those with other conditions that put them at higher risk. 

The timeframe for these phases is currently unknown.

The general public will be eligible for vaccination during the subsequent Phases 2 and 3. That is assuming a sufficient supply of the vaccine is available, the release states. 

Earliest vaccine timeline for general public

The earliest timeline for the general public to receive the vaccine, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts, is the second or third quarter of 2021.

Prior to the vaccine becoming widely available to the public, Freiheit said it remains vital to wear a mask in public, socially distance and avoid gatherings.

She encourages residents to also keep their social circles small, and stay home if sick or quarantined.

“This has been a long ride, but now is not yet the time to ease up on the measures we should be taking to slow the spread and reduce the risks of COVID-19,” Freiheit said. 

“I look forward to sharing more information about vaccine supplies and distribution as it becomes available.”

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Daniel Thompson is an independent journalist and the founder of The Uptown Observer based in the Kenosha, Wis., area. He started in journalism at the Western Nebraska Observer in 2012 and, most notably,...