Wisconsin lags in vaccinating prisoners, but new COVID-19 infections have slowed — 4/14/21

Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Wisconsin has delivered at least one COVID-19 vaccination to just 17% of people incarcerated in state prisons, a pace that lags far behind the general population, according to state data. That’s despite Wisconsin prioritizing vaccinations in jails, prisons and other congregate settings where people are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. 

“More than 1,900 inmates were vaccinated just within the last week — meaning vaccinations are ramping up but also that relatively few vaccinations were happening throughout March,” Emily Hamer reports for the Wisconsin State Journal. “More inmates were vaccinated this last week than all of March.”

Still, new COVID-19 infections in prisons have plunged in recent months. 

The Department of Corrections on Wednesday reported just four active infections among those incarcerated in the state’s overcrowded prisons. More than half of the prison population became infected earlier in the pandemic, as Wisconsin Watch has reported.

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Prisoners are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, but at a rate that is lagging behind the rest of the state. At Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Fond du Lac, 39 of roughly 800 prisoners have been vaccinated. Credit: Amber Arnold / Wisconsin State Journal

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What are we missing? And how are you coping? Help us provide critical information and accountability by filling out this form or emailing us at tips@wisconsinwatch.org.


“People have valid concerns about side effects and vaccines. …We can talk through that. It’s a lot harder to counter the broad, emotional sentiment of ‘deep-state government conspiracy.’ So by addressing concerns head on and being transparent, the C.D.C. will get meaningful answers and, hopefully, people will come out on the side of ‘I still want to get the vaccine.’”

Rachael Piltch-Loeb, an expert in health risk communications at the N.Y.U. School of Global Public Health, speaking to The New York Times about Tuesday’s pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccinations  

Data to note

Click on the image above to see Wisconsin DHS COVID-19 vaccine data, which is updated daily.

Here’s a look at the Department of Health Services’ vaccine dashboard, which showed Wednesday that 78.7% of Wisconsinites ages 65 and older have gotten at least one dose — as have 38% of the state’s overall population. About one in four Wisconsinites is fully vaccinated. Racial disparities persist in distributing vaccines. The shares of Black, Hispanic and Native American residents to receive a dose remain below that of white residents. 

Public health officials continue to urge Wisconsinites to wear masks and practice physical distancing until vaccinations are more widely distributed — particularly as infections again are increasing. On Wednesday, the state DHS reported a 7-day average of 823 new cases. The state also reported five new COVID-19 deaths, pushing the full toll to 6,695. 

WisContext offers this visualization. 

Find a vaccine site near you

DHS has this interactive map of vaccine providers across Wisconsin. Vaccinations are generally by appointment only and it may take time to schedule appointments with providers due to limited supplies of vaccines. Curious about how well your county is doing on vaccinations? The Washington Post created this searchable map

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Wisconsin lags in vaccinating prisoners, but new COVID-19 infections have slowed — 4/14/21 is a post from WisconsinWatch.org, a non-profit investigative news site covering Wisconsin since 2009. Please consider making a contribution to support our journalism.

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