MADISON – Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) – the combined state chamber, manufacturers’ association and safety council – sent a letter to Department of Health Services (DHS) Sec. Karen Timberlake on Monday urging her to add manufacturing workers to Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Last week the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) approved a recommendation for Phase 1B that includes prisoners but not workers in the manufacturing industry. This is in spite of the fact that the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendations included manufacturing employees in Phase 1B.
“This rejection is disheartening for manufacturing workers, who have stepped up throughout the pandemic,” wrote WMC President & CEO Kurt Bauer in the letter. “We ask you to reverse this decision, and include manufacturing workers in Phase 1B.”
Gov. Tony Evers and DHS Sec. Timberlake make the final decision on who is included in Phase 1B of the vaccine distribution, meaning they can still edit the plan offered by the SDMAC.
In the letter, Bauer argues that Wisconsin manufacturers have been considered essential since the beginning of the pandemic and have stepped up to make vital products and supplies – including a variety of personal protective equipment for hospitals, businesses and others. Despite this, the SDMAC excluded these essential workers from getting the vaccine.
“Please include manufacturing in the final state Phase 1B plan, following federal recommendations,” Bauer concluded in the letter to Sec. Timberlake. “It is simply unacceptable that the state would tell manufacturers that they do not deserve to be part of the next phase of vaccination but prisoners do.”