MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers joined the growing ranks of Wisconsin residents and governors across the country who have been vaccinated for the coronavirus, receiving his first shot Friday at a clinic not far from the state Capitol.
Evers, 69, was eligible because of his age. Vaccinations were made available to anyone over age 65 as of Jan. 25. Since then, more than one-in-three people in that age group have gotten at least their first shot, according to the state health department. Evers’ 70-year-old wife, Kathy, was vaccinated earlier this week.
Evers, a cancer survivor, had said he would not jump the line and get the vaccine before his doctor said it was available to him as an eligible member of the public. Unlike governors in some states, who have broadcast their vaccinations live, Evers got the shot privately around 5 p.m. on Friday, but his staff recorded it and planned to circulate the video publicly.
Only one reporter was allowed to witness the vaccination, which happened in a conference room at an SSM Health Dean Medical Group clinic about four miles from the Capitol. Evers wore a short-sleeved Milwaukee Brewers shirt.
“I didn’t feel a thing,” Evers said after the shot. “I felt absolutely nothing.”
Evers said he wanted the occasion to be as “every day as possible.”
“It is a big deal, but it’s not showtime,” he said. “It feels good to have it in my arm, and I’m looking forward to everyone else in the state being vaccinated, too.”
Evers joins 15 other governors across the country, including Ohio, Kansas and Colorado, who have received the vaccine so far, based on an Associated Press tally. Vaccinations have typically been given to governors who qualify based on age, as Evers did. There have been exceptions like Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, 46, who said he wanted to take the vaccine publicly to demonstrate his “confidence in its safety and efficacy.”
Other younger governors, including 46-year-old New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, have said they will wait until it’s their turn.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who is 73, could have been vaccinated based on his age but had to hold off because he had COVID-19 in December. He has said he is following federal guidance to wait at least 90 days before getting the shot.
The governors of Nevada, Oklahoma and South Carolina all tested positive for COVID-19 and have yet to be vaccinated.
Wisconsin ranked eighth nationally in the percentage of its population that has been vaccinated, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed Friday. Wisconsin had vaccinated 11.4% of its population, which was ahead of the national average of 10.8%.ADVERTISEMENT
As of Friday, more than 554,000 people have tested positive for the virus in Wisconsin and 6,151 have died. New cases have mirrored the national trend, showing a decline since mid-November. The seven-day average of new cases in Wisconsin is at its lowest point in more than five months.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe illness and be fatal.