BELOIT — The Beloit Health System (BHS) is poised to work directly with the School District of Beloit in vaccinating about 850 teachers and staff in the district to protect them against COVID-19, according to health system vice president Tom McCawley.

The health system could begin vaccinating school district staff as early as next week, McCawley said.

“We will be ready to go when we have the doses we requested from the state for Phase 1B of immunization,” McCawley said.

Beloit Board of Education President Megan Miller said the board was anxiously awaiting the first round of immunizations for district staff.

“The majority of district employees who reached out about returning to school in person want students back in person safely, and many asked specifically about leaving time for our teachers and staff to be fully vaccinated as part of mitigating the risks of COVID-19,” Miller said. “I know all parties involved are working as quickly as possible because this is a high priority for district and community well-being.”

McCawley added that Turner School District will be working with Mercyhealth for vaccine distribution to staff.

On Wednesday, the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) voted unanimously to pass recommendations along to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services for just who should be eligible for Phase 1B of vaccinations.

Those recommended to be included in Phase 1B, include: police officers and EMS first responders; all K-12 teachers and staff; food chain workers, including grocery clerks and agricultural workers; prisoners and correctional workers; mass transit staff; child welfare and social workers; E-911 dispatchers; frail elders with disabilities in the Wisconsin IRIS program; and Mink farmers.

The Phase 1B vaccination group is estimated to include 1.6 million Wisconsinites, according to DHS. Those expected to be included in Phase 1C could be people with chronic health conditions, along with public utility employees, flight attendants, librarians and veterinarians.

McCawley said the health system was unable to provide a specific number of doses requested, but noted the request was substantial and consistent with other requests made on a weekly basis to the state.

“We have requested enough to cover all in the 1B group as well for those 65 and over. We are hopeful that we will receive the full allocation requested,” McCawley said.

All immunizations of Phase 1B vaccines would be administered at Beloit Memorial Hospital.

“We have everything set up here in a safe environment where we can monitor for any potential allergic reactions to the vaccine and be prepared to give medical care if necessary,” McCawley said.

On Tuesday, DHS announced plans to begin vaccine rollout for those 65 and older, an undertaking that will outpace vaccine demand initially. The state’s 65 and older population sits at around 700,000 residents compared to to the state receiving a mere 70,000 vaccine first-doses per week from the federal government.

Since Dec. 14, a total of over 248,185 vaccine doses have been administered to Wisconsin frontline workers.