City Vaccination Program Delayed by Old Computer System
Health Department interim commissioner points to long term underfunding, deluge of work during pandemic.
Milwaukee’s interim health commissioner says years of underfunding the department has slowed down COVID-19 vaccination in the city because the right infrastructure isn’t in place.
The Milwaukee Health Department has been vaccinating health care workers, first responders and some law enforcement officials since Jan. 7. And while people age 65 and older have been eligible to receive the vaccine since Monday, Milwaukee will begin administering doses to that group starting Feb. 1.
Jackson told the city’s Public Safety and Health Committee that the department has been working on a new computer system to remedy that, and it should be up and running next week.
Alder Marina Dimitrijevic said she doesn’t understand why this is just being done now.
“I feel that we’ve known a vaccine was coming for quite some time, and to be exploring systems right now and not a few months ago, I guess I just don’t really understand that,” Dimitrijevic said.
Jackson said when the vaccine was announced two months ago, Milwaukee’s COVID-19 cases were spiking, leaving the department busy with contact tracing and community testing. She also pointed to years of inadequate funding.
“Some of the tools that I think we need to do our basic job we just didn’t have, and we should have had,” Jackson said. “And if we did have them prior to, we would not have been scrambling. We are trying to find systems that work and that work quickly for the volume that we’re doing.”
The health department is also setting up a hotline for people in Milwaukee who don’t have internet access.
Jackson said she wants to make sure there’s equity at the forefront of the process.
A total of 47,983 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Milwaukee County, according to a county-run coronavirus dashboard. There have been 476,854 doses of vaccine administered in Wisconsin, according to the state Department of Health Services.
County-wide there has been a racial disparity in the administration of the vaccine. In Milwaukee County, 29,191 white people have received the COVID-19 vaccine compared to 3,377 Black people; 2,710 Hispanic people; and 1,395 Asian people have been vaccinated.
As of right now, the vaccine is being administered at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee. Jackson said the health department is preparing mobile vaccination units that can go into Milwaukee’s neighborhoods. But those mobile units won’t be up and running until the city receives more vaccine.
Milwaukee’s Vaccination Efforts Slowed By Dated Infrastructure, A Lack Of Funding was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
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