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Milwaukee Health Department converts space at the Wisconsin Center into site for COVID-19 vaccinations

Mayor Tom Barrett was joined by members of the Milwaukee Health Department on January 11 to preview the Wisconsin Center as the City’s primary vaccination site.

The Center opened on January 12 and initially will be used to vaccinate Group 1A recipients, which include City frontline healthcare workers and other emergency responders who are at high risk of getting COVID-19. The Center will not open to the general public at this time.

“I think it is important for us to appreciate all the work that our health department employees have done. They have been remarkable,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “There is a tremendous amount of teamwork and coordination all being done in real-time.”

The Milwaukee Health Department received its first batch of vaccine, 100 doses of Pfizer vaccine, from the State of Wisconsin on January 7. Distribution of the vaccine was completed last week, and with the quantity of vaccine received, 120 health department employees, COVID-19 testing staff and fire department emergency responders received their first doses.

An additional 800 doses of vaccine will be delivered to Milwaukee in staggered times throughout the coming days. The City of Milwaukee has requested an additional 3,000 doses of vaccine for the following week. The vaccine will be stored in a secure freezer under constant monitoring at the Wisconsin Center.

The vaccination process, both for the initial recipients and, later, for the general public, has been designed for maximum efficiency and safety. At the entrance to the Wisconsin Center, individuals will undergo a health screening and temperature check. They will then discuss any questions they have with medical professionals and consent to vaccination. Following distribution of the vaccine, individuals will conclude the process in the monitoring room where Emergency Medical Service providers from the Milwaukee Fire Department will observe them for possible adverse reactions.

The City is working to complete the first group of vaccinations as quickly as possible. Following Group 1A, the Milwaukee Health Department will begin vaccinating Group 1B individuals such as police officers, teachers, and other essential workers.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced today that police and fire personnel will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning January 18, 2021, which begins the first step into phase 1B for Wisconsin. Local health departments will be leading the coordination for the vaccination of personnel, as well as emergency medical services and unaffiliated health care providers in their jurisdictions.

Vaccination efforts will continue to grow in the coming weeks and months. The City of Milwaukee is working in real-time to ramp up its vaccination network. The ultimate goal will be to set up multiple vaccination sites across the city.

“It is important to note that this is only our starting point for the largest mass-scale vaccine distribution in the history of this country,” said Nick Tomaro, Public Health Emergency Response Planning Coordinator for the Milwaukee Health Department. “There will be a multi-pronged approach for vaccine distribution. We will go mobile at a certain point. We’ve worked closely with the Milwaukee Fire Department and we’ve talked with them about having mobile vaccine strike teams that will be incredibly important as we head into later phases.”

© Photo

City of Milwaukee Health Department and Lee Matz

The Milwaukee Independent began reporting on what was then referred to as the mysterious “Wuhan Virus” in January 2020. Other local media did not picked-up on the story until many weeks later. Our early features focused on the economic impact, social issues, and health concerns long before other Milwaukee news organizations even mentioned the coronavirus. Over the following year, we have published hundreds of articles about the pandemic and how it has affected the lives of Milwaukee residents. This extensive body of work can be found on our COVID-19 Special Report page, a chronological index of links by month. Our editorial voice remains dedicated to informing the public about this health crisis for as long as it persists.
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