Adults age 65 and older will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine beginning Monday, Jan. 25, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) announced Tuesday, Jan. 19.

There are about 700,000 Wisconsin residents who are 65 and older, according to DHS.

Since the vaccine became available in Wisconsin, inoculation has been prioritized for frontline health care workers, staff and residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and more recently, police and firefighters.

Last week, the Trump administration urged states to expand vaccine eligibility to adults 65 and older. Meanwhile, the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) has been discussing who will be eligible for the vaccine in the next phase, 1b, in Wisconsin.

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"Older adults have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and prioritizing this population will help save lives," DHS Secretary Andrea Palm said in a press release. "Wisconsin systems and operations are ready to vaccinate more people. The amount of vaccine we get from the federal government will determine how quickly we can get these groups vaccinated."

Sarah Sorum, CEO of the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin, applauded the announcement.

"Pharmacies are ready to vaccinate this population and other eligible populations, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with DHS and local public health to ensure our most vulnerable Wisconsinites receive the vaccine," Sorum wrote.

Those 65 and older can access the vaccine through their health care provider, pharmacy, or local or tribal public health agency. Those currently giving vaccinations will be able to begin giving shots to older adults Monday if they've finished vaccinating those in phase 1a, DHS said.

As of Tuesday, 779,800 doses of the vaccine has been allocated across Wisconsin, DHS reported. Currently, 248,185 doses of the vaccines have been administered.

WPR's Jenny Peek contributed reporting to this story.

Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and at wpr.org.

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