Wisconsin Center Could Become Vaccine Hub
City working to set up COVID-19 vaccine distribution hub.
The Wisconsin Center could become a COVID-19 vaccination distribution site for city residents in the coming weeks.
Mayor Tom Barrett said Tuesday that the city is working to use the convention center as a vaccine distribution point.
The Milwaukee Health Department and Milwaukee Fire Department will split the initial doses evenly, prioritizing workers who have public contact. Clinic staff, laboratory workers, testing site employees and emergency medical services personnel will be first up.
“This is all happening in real time,” said Barrett, thanking the state Department of Health Services for its support. DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said Tuesday that the state has received an allocation of 420,200 doses to date.
“The level of communication that has happened in the last 48 hours is a real example of how we can work together at the local and state level,” said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Marlaina Jackson.
She said the city anticipates receiving a second allocation of 800 doses starting on Monday.
“I want to stress this is just the very beginning, 100 now, 800 next week, hopefully that number will multiply and multiply,” said Barrett.
Jackson said the city hopes to move from the 1A group to the 1B group in the coming weeks. “There will most likely be some overlap,” she said. The 1A group includes health care personnel and long-term care facility residents. The 1B group is expected to include essential workers and people 75 or older, but the state still needs to provide detailed guidance.
The 1A group in Wisconsin consists of over 600,000 people.
Barrett said all firefighters qualify in the 1A group, and 60% have already opted in. He expects that number to grow and said it should not be interpreted that 40% have declined. The city is not requiring its employees to get the vaccine.
Barrett said the city is working to secure the necessary freezers to leverage the large Wisconsin Center site. Individuals need to be observed for up to a half hour after receiving the shot.
“I would not be surprised if we were into May or June to get it to the general public,” said Jackson on Tuesday.
Milwaukee County has already received an initial vaccine allocation from the state, primarily for its behavioral health division, and is receiving a second allocation for its EMS division.
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