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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Wisconsin

Health care workers and workers and residents of skilled nursing facilities will be vaccinated first, DHS says.

A model of the novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China in late 2019. U.S. health officials have stated that COVID-19 is expected to become a significant public health concern in the United States. (Illustration courtesy of Centers for Disease Control)
Contributed / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

State health officials said the first shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Wisconsin on Monday, Dec. 14 .

The state will receive nearly 50,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, said Stephanie Schauer, immunization program manager with the Division of Public Health.

The vaccine requires two doses: an initial shot and a booster administered a few weeks later. The number of doses Schauer cited are first doses of the vaccine, said Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the state Department of Health Services. That means nearly 50,000 people will receive the first of their two immunizations in the coming weeks.

"This is how the federal government is distributing the vaccine is the first dose and then they hold the second dose ready to deliver three weeks later, so it is 50,000 people," Willems Van Dijk said.

As of Monday afternoon, no one in Wisconsin had yet been vaccinated for COVID-19, she said.


Frontline health care workers, people who work in skilled nursing facilities and residents of skilled nursing facilities will be the first to receive the vaccine. There are an estimated 400,000 health care workers statewide who need to be vaccinated, Schauer said.

Despite the arrival of the vaccine in Wisconsin, officials said it will take months to inoculate everyone who opts for it. They advised Wisconsinites to continue to stay home, avoid interactions with people they don't live with, to wear a mask and social distance when they leave their homes and to wash their hands regularly. Those who have been exposed to someone with the virus, as well as those who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, should get tested.

"To make it easier for the vaccine to do its job, we need to do our part to stop the spread now," Willems Van Dijk said.

Once the vaccine is more widely available, Wisconsinites will be able to get vaccinated through their health care providers or through community vaccination sites. Willems Van Dijk said the community vaccination sites will be similar to COVID-19 community testing sites. The state will not require people to be vaccinated for COVID-19, she said.

The federal government used taxpayer dollars to pay for the vaccine, so it will not cost anything to receive the vaccine itself, Willems Van Dijk said. However, those who get the vaccine through a health care provider may be charged an administration fee, which can be billed to insurance. Community-based vaccination clinics will not have an administration fee, she said.

DHS will not release the locations of hub sites where the vaccine will be stored and distributed from for security reasons, Willems Van Dijk said.

Cases in Northwestern Wisconsin

A Washburn County resident died from complications related to COVID-19, DHS reported Monday.

The person who died was the county's eighth loss since the pandemic began.


A total of 12 deaths were reported statewide Monday, bringing the total number in the state to 4,068, DHS said. Overall, about 1% of people who have contracted the virus in Wisconsin have died, DHS said.

A total of 82 Northwestern Wisconsin residents tested positive for COVID-19 Monday. They were reported as follows: 24 in Douglas County; 12 in Bayfield County; 10 in Sawyer County; nine each in Taylor and Washburn counties; seven in Price County; five each in Ashland and Burnett counties; and one in Rusk County. No new cases were reported in Iron County.

The new cases were among 2,122 cases reported Monday, bringing the state's overall tally to 438,895, DHS said. The seven-day average of positive cases was 3,509, a figure that has been dropping.

The number of negative tests in the state was 2,255,994, an increase of 5,228 from the previous day.

An additional 77 people were hospitalized because of the virus Monday. Across the state, 1,427 people are currently hospitalized because of COVID-19, a number that has been dropping. The total number of people receiving treatment in intensive care units is 318. DHS reported that 84% of the state's available hospital beds are occupied. Overall, 4% of Wisconsinites who contracted the virus have been hospitalized.

Monday's report also showed that 89% of the people who have tested positive for the virus have recovered. That means 10%, or 44,749 cases, are currently active.

Here's the breakdown in the 10-county region:

Ashland County

  • Active cases: 103
  • Deaths: 13
  • Probable deaths: 0
  • Total cases: 879
  • Total negative tests: 5,709

Bayfield County

  • Active cases: 89
  • Deaths: 16
  • Probable deaths: 0
  • Total cases: 831
  • Total negative tests: 5,618

Burnett County

  • Active cases: 132
  • Deaths: 15
  • Probable deaths: 0
  • Total cases: 917
  • Total negative tests: 5,131

Douglas County

  • Active cases: 474
  • Deaths: 14
  • Probable deaths: 12
  • Total cases: 2,643
  • Total negative tests: 14,853

Iron County

  • Active cases: 33
  • Deaths: 10
  • Probable deaths: 6
  • Total cases: 398
  • Total negative tests: 2,181

Price County

  • Active cases: 53
  • Deaths: 4
  • Probable deaths: 0
  • Total cases: 857
  • Total negative tests: 4,605

Rusk County

  • Active cases: 99
  • Deaths: 11
  • Probable deaths: 0
  • Total cases: 1,014
  • Total negative tests: 4,107

Sawyer County

  • Active cases: 101
  • Deaths: 8
  • Probable deaths: 0
  • Total cases: 1,059
  • Total negative tests: 6,852

Taylor County

  • Active cases: 145
  • Deaths: 13
  • Probable deaths: 5
  • Total cases: 1,470
  • Total negative tests: 4,808

Washburn County

  • Active cases: 101
  • Deaths: 8
  • Probable deaths: 1
  • Total cases: 895
  • Total negative tests: 5,155

Visit the Douglas County COVID-19 dashboard or Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID-19 page for updates.

Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten is the regional editor for Duluth Media Group, overseeing the Cloquet Pine Journal and the Superior Telegram.
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