Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Milwaukee Planning Its Own COVID-19 Vaccine Incentive

New program will replace expiring state effort. Employer mandates expected to boost interest.

By - Sep 10th, 2021 02:05 pm
Dr. Ben Weston receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Photo courtesy of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. Ben Weston receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Photo courtesy of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

The Milwaukee Health Department intends to offer its own COVID-19 vaccination incentive program to Milwaukee residents.

Commissioner Kirsten Johnson announced the planned program during a meeting Friday of the Common Council’s Public Safety & Health Committee. It’s at least the second time Johnson mentioned a potential vaccine incentive program in recent months.

But it now has a timeline.

Johnson said the program would be intended to replace a state program scheduled to expire on Sept. 19.

According to Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) data, 46.7% of all Milwaukee residents have received at least one vaccination dose. The rate is the lowest in Milwaukee County and below the state total of 55.5%. Individual ZIP codes vary from 34.3% (53206) to 72.6% (53203).

Governor Tony Evers and DHS introduced the state program on Aug. 20, offering a $100 Visa gift card to anyone receiving their first shot. Originally scheduled to expire on Sept. 6, it was extended through Sept. 19 and DHS reported that 65,000 people took up the offer by Sept. 1

Johnson said the city has seen an uptick in vaccination interest, particularly in younger people as the school year approached.

There are at least three large employment groups that will need to be vaccinated in the coming weeks if they are not already.

A City of Milwaukee employee vaccination requirement went into effect on Sept. 1, with employees that are not union-protected police officers or firefighters required to be vaccinated by Oct. 29.

Milwaukee County has a similar requirement that requires to be vaccinated by Oct. 1. It is offering a $50 incentive, including those already vaccinated, and eligibility for more time off in 2022.

The Milwaukee Board of School Directors adopted a vaccination requirement Thursday evening for Milwaukee Public Schools employees.

The school district will also $100 to any student who elects to get vaccinated, including those that already are.

Each of the three requirements includes limited exemptions for those ineligible to be vaccinated.

Cases in Children

Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic asked if Johnson was surprised that MPS announced its first temporary school closure due to a COVId-19 outbreak.

“Not at all,” said Johnson. The city has seen a steady, elevated level of 200 cases in seven days per 100,000 residents — classified as “extreme transmission” — since the week of Aug. 5. Since that time the city’s adult vaccination rate has climbed by 3% according to MHD data.

“I think that cases in children are simply a reflection of the cases in adults,” said the commissioner. She said she didn’t believe that transmission was occurring in masked classrooms, but at private events with family or friends.

Her presentation concluded with a slide that, at least visually, showed a strong correlation between the areas of the city with the lowest vaccination rates have the highest level of COVID-19 cases in children.

“The best way we can protect our kids who are ineligible for vaccines is to surround them who are vaccinated,” said Johnson.

Categories: City Hall, Health, Weekly

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