Graham Kilmer

State and Local Vaccination Expansions Begin Next Week

City and county will target 10 Milwaukee zip codes for vaccination.

By - Mar 16th, 2021 07:23 pm
COVID-19 vaccine. Pixabay License Free for commercial use No attribution required

COVID-19 vaccine. (Pixabay License).

In Milwaukee and across the state officials announced aggressive expansions of vaccine eligibility beginning next week.

The state Department of Health Services announced that anyone 16 years or older with a chronic health condition that puts them at risk of COVID-19 will be eligible for vaccine beginning next week Monday, March 22nd, a week earlier than originally planned. This will make an estimated 2 million additional people eligible to receive a vaccine.

The City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County also announced an expansion of a program targeting ZIP codes for vaccination that have the highest scores on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index.

Since vaccination began in January, more than 2 million doses have been administered statewide. Nearly 22% of the state has received at least one dose of vaccine. 12.6% of the population has completed the vaccination process. Since early February, the number of doses administered on a weekly basis has steadily risen. 

“Our vaccinators across the state are doing great work to get folks vaccinated and get this done, and because of their good work, Wisconsin continues to be a national leader in getting shots in arms,” Governor Tony Evers said in a press release Tuesday.

On top of moving the eligibility timeline up a week for those with chronic health conditions, DHS has also expanded the definition of currently eligible groups to include clergy, restaurant workers, judges, prosecutors, public defenders and other “essential criminal court personnel.”

In Milwaukee, city and county officials will begin targeting specific ZIP codes for vaccination next week. The strategy is intended to reduce the racial disparities in vaccination and also to eliminate barriers to vaccination for communities and neighborhoods that rank high on the CDC’s social vulnerability index.

“Utilizing the ZIP code data to expand our ZIP code eligibility is a step in the right direction towards serving our underrepresented neighborhoods of color,” said County Executive David Crowley.

The 10 ZIP codes being targeted are: 53204, 53205, 53206, 53209, 53215, 53216, 53218, 53223, 53224 and 53233. Anyone 18 years or older that lives in one of these ZIP codes can sign up to be vaccinated beginning next week.

Community residents can sign up online to be vaccinated by Milwaukee County at the Kosciuszko Community Center vaccination site by visiting the website for the county’s Office of Emergency Management. 

Otherwise, the City of Milwaukee is rolling out two community vaccination clinics next week that are open to residents of those 10 ZIP codes. The clinics will be at North Division High School, 1011 W. Center St. and South Division High School, 1515 W. Lapham Blvd. These sites will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from March 22nd to April 19th. Residents can make an appointment on the city’s vaccine website, or by calling 414-286-6800.

In determining the ZIP codes to target, officials worked to identify areas with high levels of social vulnerability and low levels of vaccination, said Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for Milwaukee County. The index uses data on indicators of social vulnerability within a community like income level, job status, transportation availability and housing among others to determine what level of vulnerability those residents may face.

The county will also start delivering a flyer as part of daily meals brought to approximately 1,500 homebound seniors in the county explaining how they can get vaccinated. The county is working with a local health provider, Health Connections, that will send staff to administer the vaccine to these seniors in their homes.

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