Public health officials in Wisconsin are already in discussions about how to distribute COVID-19 vaccines when they become available.

Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said Tuesday that local and tribal health departments and their community partners are preparing for the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

“It will be the most extraordinary public health intervention our state has ever undertaken,” she said. “It poses significant challenges, such as the need for ultra-cold storage, and multiple vaccines, from multiple manufacturers, on different schedules.”

Vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer have been announced and are seemingly highly effective. But even once they’re available, public health authorities urge us to continue to follow practices that can slow the spread of coronavirus.

Doctor Stephanie Schauer is the state Division of Public Health Immunization Program Manager. “It will take several months before vaccine supply will meet the public’s demand. I do want to reiterate that while we are looking forward to having safe and effective vaccine in the upcoming months, we still need to continue taking steps to protect ourselves, our families and our communities, both now and when the vaccine becomes available. Stay home, wash your hands, and physically distance when you do have to go out.”

The state’s efforts to distribute the vaccine will cost about $3.1 million. The vaccine would likely be distributed in phases–and only after undergoing rigorous safety testing by independent examiners.

“In that first phase it will likely be given to frontline healthcare providers through their employee health systems,” Willems Van Dijk said. It would then be given to those in long-term care facilities.

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