Overview of Vaccine Distribution in Waukesha County

In collaboration with Waukesha County’s Stay Safe to Stay Open campaign, the Alliance continues to provide important updates regarding COVID-19 on behalf of the County, including the vaccine distribution rollout. If you have immediate questions regarding the information below, please contact Amanda Payne, Senior Vice President of Public Policy. The Alliance will continue to provide updates on the vaccine distribution process as new information becomes available.

Waukesha County is coordinating with a state strategy for vaccine distribution. At this time, the County’s role in the vaccine distribution process is to serve as a logistical community partner while designated healthcare facilities and pharmacies vaccinate early recipients who are considered high-risk for COVID-19.

Waukesha County’s goal is to help ensure that testing continues to be available in the community and to develop a plan to deliver the vaccine in future phases. The County continues to advise all residents to follow COVID-19 safe practices to reduce the spread of the virus in our community.

Vaccine distribution will occur nationally in three phases:

Phase 1 (Current Phase): Limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses available

  • Concentrate on reaching critical populations.
  • Early distribution will occur in three distinct phases: 1A (current phase),1B and 1C.

Phase 2: Larger number of vaccine doses available

  • Focus on ensuring access to vaccine for all critical populations who were not vaccinated in Phase 1, as well as for the general population; expand provider network.

Phase 3: Sufficient supply of vaccine doses for entire population (surplus of doses)

  • Focus on ensuring equitable vaccination access across the entire population. Monitor vaccine uptake and coverage; reassess strategy to increase uptake in populations or communities with low coverage.

Wisconsin is expected to have access to vaccines from two different manufacturers before the end of the month: Pfizer and Moderna. Both vaccines will require two doses to be effective. Initial vaccine allocations will be for the first dose only.

How will the vaccine be stored and distributed?

Healthcare facilities and nationally designated pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens, will distribute the vaccine to Phase 1A recipients. Currently, Waukesha County’s role in the vaccine distribution process is through helping the state identify early phase gaps. It is too early to identify if or when Waukesha County Public Health will coordinate large-scale community vaccination clinics during future phases. The County currently has no pre-registration or pre-ordering process in place for the public.

Eight hubs in Wisconsin are receiving initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine and dividing the product to providers. These regional locations were chosen for their unique abilities to store, monitor, and handle vaccines in ultra-cold temperatures as well as their willingness to redistribute COVID-19 vaccine to other providers in their regions. The Moderna vaccine is easier to store and will ship directly to vaccinators.

How COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendations are Made

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a national group of medical and public health experts, develops recommendations for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to use vaccines to control diseases in the United States. Each state is required to operationalize the distribution.

In Wisconsin, the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) uses these, and other national recommendations, to develop ethical medical policies during declared disaster or public health emergencies for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Waukesha County participates in multiple weekly meetings with DHS related to vaccine logistics planning.

The SDMAC recently determined that in Wisconsin Phase 1A recipients will include frontline health care workers and long-term care residents. Other decisions regarding vaccine distribution have yet to be made, but are addressed in two documents open for public comment at the moment:

Who will get the Vaccine First?  

Due to the limited supply of available vaccine, vaccines will be distributed in phases to high-risk individuals. Early vaccination is occurring in three distinct phases: 1A, 1B and 1C. While Phase 1A has been defined, Phases 1B and 1C are currently under review and will be open to public comment. 

  • Phase 1A: Frontline health care workers and long-term care residents and staff. 
  • Phase 1B: Essential workers. The definition and further guidance regarding sub-prioritization of essential workers have not yet been clarified by SDMAC. It is likely the definition of essential workers will be more restricted than was identified in the Wisconsin DHS Emergency Order #12, issued in March. Current CDC guidance references workers in essential and critical industries, as defined by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency.  
  • Phase 1C: Adults over 65 years old and those with underlying medical conditions. Early vaccine access is critical to ensuring the health and safety of this population that is disproportionately affected by COVID-19. 

More information about how the CDC is making COVID-19 vaccine recommendations is available here

When will more information be available?   Waukesha County is working with DHS and local healthcare providers to find out more information as soon as it is available. Click here to view the information provided in this email via PDF. Additional information will be available in January, including resources at www.waukeshacounty.gov.