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As Wisconsin Expands Eligibility To Everyone 16+, People Line Up For COVID-19 Vaccine

Ricardo Perez, student at South Division High School told his mother Maria about the opportunity to get vaccinated Monday
Angelina Mosher Salazar
Ricardo Perez, student at South Division High School, told his mother Maria about the opportunity to get vaccinated Monday

Monday was the first day any Wisconsin resident 16 and older was eligible to receive the free COVID-19 vaccine. Roughly a third of Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose of vaccine. Many more will be looking for a chance to get a shot in the coming days and weeks.

People can be vaccinated at the doctor's office, pharmacies, some places of employment and community-based vaccination sites. Ricardo Perez, a student at South Division High School, learned of the opportunity to get vaccinated by his teachers. He then told his mom and his sister and all three were in line Monday to get the vaccine.

South Division and North Division high schools are both walk-in vaccination sites. No appointment is needed, and Nick Tomaro, preparedness coordinator with the Milwaukee Health Department, hopes that makes it that much more convenient for newly eligible residents to get their vaccine. "We really want the public to understand that it's walk-in, free and we're going to serve everybody as efficiently as possible," he says.

However, hours are limited at both South Division and North Division to 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and no weekend hours. Tomaro recognizes the inconvenience that poses, especially to the working class neighborhoods that the health department seeks to serve, but says it's a matter of logistics.

"Milwaukee Public Schools has been an outstanding partner for allowing us to use these facilities. However, they do have recreation at night. So that's a little bit of a constraint on working into the evening hours," he says.

Increased eligibility means that many are receiving their first dose of vaccine, while many others are also relieved to be getting their final shot. A few miles north at the Wisconsin Center, Helen Dixon, who is known by her neighbors as the barbeque lady, says she's doing just fine and encourages others to get the vaccine as well, "Say your prayers and make a move and gone and get it done."

The Wisconsin Center does have weekend and evening hours. Registration is needed prior to getting your shot. No COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for the 20% of Wisconsin residents who are under 16 years old. The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for 16- and 17-year-olds, while Moderna's product is only available for those 18 and older.

Angelina Mosher Salazar joined WUWM in 2018 as the Eric Von Broadcast Fellow. She was then a reporter with the station until 2021.
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