On Tuesday (January 12), the state advisory panel charged with setting Wisconsin’s state plan for allocating the COVID-19 vaccine, known officially as the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) Vaccine Subcommittee, released its finalized draft recommendations for the next phase (Tier 1B) of vaccine distribution.
Among the population groups included for prioritization in the draft Phase 1B distribution plan are individuals serving in daycare, preschool, K-12 and higher education. This is promising news for schools.
The document containing the final draft is now available for public comment. The public comment period is open until 4 pm on Monday, January 18.
Public comments may be submitted to DHSSDMAC@dhs.wisconsin.gov. Please include “vaccine subcommittee” and “Phase 1B” in the email subject line.
The subcommittee indicates it would find the following comments most useful in finalizing its recommendations once the public comment period ends: (1) The impact the pandemic has had on the sector; (2) The specific impact the pandemic has had on businesses or personnel; and (3) Any other staffing statistics related to the pandemic.
The final approval for Phase 1B vaccination recommendations is expected to be granted on Friday, January 22.
The Vaccine Subcommittee explained its draft recommendations saying, “The Subcommittee recommends inclusion of (certain) groups as front line essential workers, based on the essential nature of their jobs, difficulty identifying trained replacements, or unique circumstances of employment.”
Specifically, the draft recommendation states:
“Education and childcare: The Subcommittee endorses ACIP recommendation* that those serving in daycare, preschool, K-12, and higher education. The feasibility domain was rated high by the Subcommittee as educational settings likely have a relationship with an insurer, school nurse, or health facility that may be able to facilitate enrollment of a vaccine.”
(*The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is a federal body. It defines “frontline essential workers” as “the subset of essential workers likely at greatest risk for work-related exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, because their work-related duties must be performed onsite and their duties involve being in close proximity (<6 feet) to the public or coworkers.”)
Additional language regarding the Vaccine Subcommittee’s decision to include educators in the Phase 1B distribution is found in Appendix E (see pp. 14-15).
In an odd twist, some educators may run a risk of being excluded from Phase 1B under the draft recommendations if they are working from home because they are high risk. Language in the draft recommendations (see paragraph on “PUBLIC-FACING ESSENTIAL WORKERS” on page 2) states:
“The (Vaccine) Subcommittee asks the public and employers to only select those who are at risk due to performing public-facing positions with considerations of frequency, intensity, and duration of contact, and ability to mitigate. Employees who are able to work from home, perform most tasks outdoors, or have limited engagement with the public are asked to delay vaccination until supply is robust.” (emphasis added)
In addition, language in Appendix E (see bottom paragraph on p. 15) states:
“– Vaccination should be offered to any individual faculty, staff or administrator in child care/preschool, K-12 and post-secondary educational settings, for whom direct interaction with students is required for achievement of appropriate educational outcomes.” (emphasis added)