On March 11, 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced the next eligible group for COVID-19 vaccinations. The group, designated Group 1c, extends vaccine eligibility to Wisconsin residents ages 16 and older with certain medical conditions that have a greater risk of severe infection from COVID-19. Such medical conditions include, but are not limited to, asthma, cancer, heart conditions, hypertension or high blood pressure, obesity (body mass index (BMI) of 30-39 kg/m2), overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2), and Type 1 or 2 diabetes. The full list of medical conditions is available at: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-about.htm.

Group 1c is more expansive than it might appear at initial review. Individuals with a BMI above 25 are eligible as part of Group 1c. According to the DHS, 67 percent of adults in Wisconsin have a BMI above 25. This is consistent with national averages.

Group 1c is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning on March 29, 2021. However, vaccine providers may continue to prioritize previously eligible groups before those in Group 1c. Individuals should contact their local health department or pharmacy for information on vaccine availability.

Wisconsin’s designation of Group 1c is distinct from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control’s recommendations, which includes specific categories of essential workers not previously eligible, such as construction, law and media. These employment fields do not give rise to eligibility in Wisconsin.

DHS also announced it anticipates that, depending on vaccine supply, the general public will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine sometime in May 2021. This is consistent with President Joe Biden’s March 11, 2021 projection that every adult in the United States will be eligible for the vaccine by May 1, 2021.

Employers should continue to assess how they will address vaccines within their workplace. At a minimum, employers should provide accurate and reliable information and training on the benefits and safety of vaccinations from reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control or DHS.

If you have questions about vaccination programs in the workplace, please contact Shannon Toole, Britany Lopez Naleid or an attorney in Reinhart’s Labor and Employment Practice.

Please visit Reinhart’s Coronavirus Resource Center for additional up-to-date information.