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Milwaukee Opening Up COVID-19 Vaccination To All Adults In 10 Zip Codes

A nurse administers a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at Wayside Christian Mission on March 15 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Jon Cherry
Getty Images
A nurse administers a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at Wayside Christian Mission on March 15 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Starting March 22 in Wisconsin, people age 16 and older with certain medical conditions will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said the county will be going “one step further" — anyone age 18 and older who lives in 10 targeted zip codes will be eligible for the vaccine come Monday.

The zip codes include 53204, 53205, 53206, 53209, 53215, 53216, 53218, 53223, 53224 and 53233.

“Anyone 18 years of age and older and who lives in the 10 county zip codes ranking highest on the CDC’s social vulnerability indexcan get vaccinated,” he said.

According to the CDC, the index reflects overall vulnerability based on factors such as socio-economic status, language and disability.

Sixteen and 17 year olds living in the 10 zip codes also qualify for vaccination, Milwaukee Health Department Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said, but with an important caveat.

“The challenge with the age group from 16 to 18 is they can only receive Pfizer. So, we are planning to have Pfizer available every day at the Wisconsin Center to assure that we can get 16 or 17 years who are registered vaccinated,” she said.

Johnson said Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for 16 and 17 year olds.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said when local officials saw the CDC's index for the first time late last week, they realized it correlated with local vaccination data.

“In other words, the people in the neighborhoods who needed it the most were the ones who were getting it the least,” he said.

Dr. Ben Weston, the director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said the correlation lays out the stark reality of disparities and the need to close them.

Weston also said vaccinations are free for everyone.

“Frankly, we don’t care whether you’re insured, whether you’re documented. I believe [Milwaukee Heath Department Commissioner Kirsten Johnson] can confirm, I believe all the public health departments are in that same boat, there is not charge for a vaccine, it is completely free,” he said.

Crowley said more is being done to reach older adults by ramping up outreach to seniors who are homebound. “So starting today our partner, Goodwill Industries, [will] deliver a flyer along with its daily meals to 1500 homebound older adults with information about how to register for a vaccine shots,” he said.

Crowley also said seniors can be vaccinated in the comfort of their own homes.

While eligibility for the vaccine continues to grow, it’s unclear whether the supply will meet the demand in the immediate future.

Susan is WUWM's environmental reporter.
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