Graham Kilmer

City Resuming Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Wednesday

Milwaukee also using more community clinics to make vaccinations more convenient.

By - Apr 27th, 2021 05:31 pm
COVID-19 vaccine. Pixabay License Free for commercial use No attribution required

COVID-19 vaccine. (Pixabay License).

Milwaukee area vaccine administrators will once again begin providing the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine starting Wednesday.

The vaccine, which is one of three currently available in the U.S., was paused for use after cases of a rare blood clot were discovered as a potential side effect of the vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have both approved resuming administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The state Department of Health Services has followed suit.

During a media briefing Tuesday, City of Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson announced that Johnson & Johnson was officially back in circulation and that the health department would begin offering it the following day. Though everyone will have a choice at all city clinics, she said, of a vaccine other than the Johnson & Johnson.

Following a safety review by federal agencies, the FDA reported that 15 cases of the rare blood clot were discovered in 15 women between the ages of 18 and 59. More than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine had been administered when the pause went into effect. This suggests the likelihood of the clot is approximately two in one million.

Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for Milwaukee County, said, “You can open up your medicine cabinet and probably everything in there has a greater risk of serious side effects than this vaccine.”

Weston explained that the blood clot was worrisome because it was rare and required different treatment from other blood clots. But, he noted, “Every doctor in the emergency department now knows what to look for and how to treat these blood clots in order for people to be as safe as possible should they happen.”

The vaccines available in Milwaukee are “extremely effective and extremely safe,” Weston said. As more and more people are vaccinated, the real world data coming back is suggesting that in some cases they are even more effective than previously predicted, he said.

Vaccine Strategy Shifting

As the Johnson & Johnson vaccine re-enters circulation, health departments, health care systems and even local businesses are going all in on community-based vaccination.

The city has been operating community vaccination clinics since March, and Mayor Tom Barrett said “We’re continuing our efforts in the community to bring the vaccine to people.”

Approximately 26% of adults in the city of Milwaukee have now completed the vaccination process, Barrett said. “We can do better than that, and we have to do better than that if we are going to beat this disease.”

This week alone, the city is partnering with three different churches to host pop-up vaccination clinics. The first ones occurred Tuesday at Jackson Park Lutheran Church, 4535 W. Oklahoma Ave., and Mount Horeb Missionary Baptist Church, 534 W. Center Street. On Thursday, from noon to 4 p.m., the third church clinic will provide vaccines at Hepatha Lutheran Church, 1720 W. Locust St.

“I absolutely love these partnerships with churches, with community groups, with others,” the mayor said. “And as long as we have willing partners who will produce arms for us, I want to keep doing this.”

The city also continues to run its walk-in clinics at the Wisconsin Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave., the Northwest Health Center, 6431 N. 76th St., and the Southside Health Center, 1639 S. 23rd St.

The number of people seeking out the vaccine has been declining in recent weeks statewide. Dr. Weston said he didn’t believe the rollout was hitting a “wall of vaccine hesitancy.” Rather, he suggested that, as a community, everyone that was “eager or readily able to get vaccine” has received one.

This, he said, is why shifting resources to pop-ups, walk-ins and mobile clinics is becoming a more effective strategy than centralized vaccination centers.

Commissioner Johnson said the health department is working with the Milwaukee Bucks to operate a vaccination clinic at the Fiserv Forum during the game on Sunday, May 2nd. Any fans 16 or older can stop at the Panorama Club in the arena from 1 p.m. till the end of the game and receive their first dose of vaccine.

On Thursday, The Nomad World Pub, 1401 E. Brady St., is also hosting a vaccine clinic from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. That same day, Ascension All Saints Family Health Center, 2400 W. Villard Ave., will also run a vaccine clinic from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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