Jeramey Jannene

Wisconsin Center Could Become Vaccine Hub

City working to set up COVID-19 vaccine distribution hub.

By - Jan 6th, 2021 05:41 pm
The Wisconsin Center in March 2020. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Wisconsin Center in March 2020. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

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 City of Milwaukee will receive an initial shipment of 100 Pfizer vaccine doses Wednesday afternoon. “What we will do tomorrow is begin distributing [it] to some frontline health workers and some frontline members of the fire department,” said Barrett in a Wednesday afternoon press conference. The state has been parceling the vaccine out to qualified healthcare providers.

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.

“We at this point are going to be running at least six days a week to get those vaccines out,” said Jackson. She said up to 70 people would be vaccinated daily. “We are real comfortable that 800 is a doable number for us.”

“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.

The vaccine doses will not arrive all at once, allowing the city to avoid a freezer capacity issue. Long-term storage must be in ultra-low temperature freezers. The vaccine can last for up to five days at temperatures between 35 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

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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Categories: Health, Weekly

One thought on “Wisconsin Center Could Become Vaccine Hub”

  1. Betsy Blair says:

    It’s unfortunate that dentists and dental professionals are not included in the 1A category.
    Seems unfair given the work they do.

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