GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

Surge of people 65 and up in Green Bay area looking to receive COVID-19 vaccine, but supply is limited

Coronavirus

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) Starting next week people 65 and over will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot. But as Kris Schuller reports it might take some time to schedule an appointment, because of the law of supply and demand.

Wisconsin DHS recently announced people 65 and over could receive a COVID-19 shot starting next Monday.

“This is a significant expansion, there are approximately 700,000 Wisconsinites over the age of 65,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk.

And since then, health care systems have been flooded with requests for appointments.

“I think we filled close to 7,000 slots in a half-hour time period, so there is a lot of demand,” said Prevea Health President & CEO Ashok Rai.

“I’d say a lot of phone calls and a lot of folks trying to access the patient portal to schedule,” said Bellin Health COO Sharla Baenen.

But when you have 700,000 people eligible and the state gets only 70,000 vaccines each week – it’s going to take some time.

“Reality is there are only so many people and so many chairs and there is only so much vaccine,” said Rai.

Currently DHS says some 248,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to health care workers, long-term care facilities and this week police and firefighters.

Now the agency says it’s time to vaccinate older adults, a group hit hard by the coronavirus.

“If you look at our death data around who has perished from this disease, it is disproportionately people in older age groups. People will get their vaccines; it may not be tomorrow, but in the next month or two,” said Van Dijk.

Both Prevea and Bellin knew there would be demand and they are addressing longer wait times on phones or delays online, for those trying to schedule a shot when a vaccine is available – by adding staff and bulking up online capacities.

“It’s not perfect, we just need people to be patient. Our goal is to continue to scale up as much as the government allows us to,” Rai said.

“Don’t lose heart, keep trying. We’re working diligently in improving wait times,” Baenen said.

Both providers say the easiest way to try to schedule a shot is online – by visiting MyPrevea.com or MyBellin.org.

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