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Wisconsin hits vaccine milestone on path toward herd immunity

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MADISON (WKOW) — A third of people in Wisconsin have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot and more than one in five are fully vaccinated. Doctors say the state’s progress is promising and could mean we see herd immunity sooner.

“[With] vaccination rates increasing, it starts to create an environment where the virus will have a little bit more difficulty in transmitting person to person,” UW Health’s Dr. Jeff Pothof said.

Wisconsin’s effort to vaccinate people will take another step forward Monday, when eligibility opens up to everyone 16 and older.

Mo Kharbat, SSM Health’s Vice President of Pharmacy Services, said expanded eligibility will help speed up vaccinations, too.

“It’s another step in helping us make the vaccine available to more people,” he said. “That is one step in the right direction.”

Even as vaccination efforts pick up, the state is still far away from herd immunity, which Kharbat said will require 80 percent of people to be vaccinated.

However, he said we could reach the goal of herd immunity quicker if vaccinators get more doses.

“We will only see the vaccine efforts in Wisconsin accelerating towards getting to herd immunity,” he said. “Initially, we were thinking we won’t get there until July, August, September. Now, we could get there sooner if the vaccine supplies can come.”

Health officials say vaccinating teens will also be crucial to reaching herd immunity. Grant County is hosting a clinic targeted at 16- and 17-year-olds on Wednesday.

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