UW President Tommy Thompson 9-22-20

UW President Tommy Thompson during an interview with WisEye on 9-22-20. 

(The Center Square) - The University of Wisconsin System has tested nearly 200,000 people for the coronavirus in just two months. Now the school’s president is saying they can vaccinate everyone in the state in the next three. 

UW President Tommy Thompson on Wednesday said the university can take over the state’s slow-to-start coronavirus vaccination program. 

"We could set it up on our campuses," Thompson said. "We have nursing students, nursing deans, individuals qualified to administer vaccines. We could do it the same way as testing, and vaccinate as many people as needed."

Thompson said the UW System could vaccinate everyone in Wisconsin by the end of March, or beginning of April. 

Wisconsin is lagging behind in getting the vaccine to people across the state. The state’s Department of Health Services on Tuesday reported that just 85,609 of Wisconsin’s 266,675 doses have been administered. Numbers from the CDC show Wisconsin lagging behind almost every other Midwestern state when it comes to vaccinations. 

Thompson said his offer to take over is not meant as an insult to Gov. Tony Evers and his administration. 

"We don't want to in any way criticize,” Thompson said. “We just want to help out and make sure that the vaccine is extended faster and to everybody that gets vaccinated as soon as possible."

In addition to running the University of Wisconsin, Thompson is a former Wisconsin governor and former federal Health and Human Services Secretary. He said that experience working with the federal government has proven crucial during the university’s testing program. He’s confident that it would be a smooth transition to vaccinations. 

“It goes through the state and the federal government, and we’re talking to them, consulting with them,” Thompson said. “We’re saying, give us a chance. We’re ready to go. We’ll set up up a great program for vaccination and everybody wants us to do it.”

Thompson says he has not heard back from Gov. Evers about his offer. 

The Center Square Correspondent

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.