EAU CLAIRE — Wisconsin isn’t likely to hit President Joe Biden’s goal of partially vaccinating at least 70% of adults by July 4, but the state is on track to reach that benchmark by mid-July, state officials said Tuesday.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 64% of U.S. adults had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
About 63% of adults over 18 in Wisconsin have received at least one dose, and about 57% of Eau Claire County residents have, according to a New York Times analysis.
Children as young as 12 are also eligible for the vaccine nationwide.
“If I look at the pace we’ve been going at over the last four weeks, we will get there shortly after the Fourth of July,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the state’s Department of Health Services. “My prediction would be around the middle of July that 70% of adults over 18 would be (partly) vaccinated.”
At least 30 states individually are on track to miss Biden’s goal of 70% of U.S. adults getting at least one dose of the vaccine by the July holiday — though the country as a whole could reach that goal if the current vaccination pace holds, the New York Times reported.
Vaccinating younger kids will help control new clusters of infections, said Van Dijk and Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the DHS’ Bureau of Communicable Diseases.
Children 12 to 15 have been eligible for the vaccine since May. About 22% of those younger teens in Wisconsin have gotten their first dose.
“That’s good progress, but it’s a long way from 80 or 90%,” Van Dijk said Tuesday on a call with reporters. “... We know that teenage children are where we’re seeing the largest incidence of disease now.”
In Eau Claire County, almost 28% of those younger teens have gotten their first dose — about 1,300 kids, according to county data.
County and state officials have set a goal of vaccinating 80% of the population, saying the state may be able to achieve herd immunity at that point.
But both local and nationwide vaccination rates have slowed drastically. In March and April, between 6,000 and 7,000 doses were being distributed each week in Eau Claire County. In June so far, weekly doses have only topped 1,000, according to state data.
Westergaard on Tuesday said that the fewer children vaccinated, the more at risk communities will be for new clusters and outbreaks.
“This story is not over yet,” Westergaard said. “ … We’ve gotten off to a good start, yes, but 20 to 30% isn’t going to protect us from outbreaks and clusters for the rest of this year. We need to work together to get those numbers much higher.”