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Milwaukee Health Officials Hold Vaccine Clinic At Bucks Game

Mika Turner gets her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine while watching the Bucks game outside the Fiserv Forum at the jumbo screen.
Maayan Silver
Mika Turner gets her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine while watching the Bucks game outside the Fiserv Forum at the jumbo screen.

City of Milwaukee health officials are doing everything they can to get people vaccinated, including efforts this past weekend at the Bucks-Nets game.

With the nice weather Sunday, the vibe outside of the Fiserv Forum was laid back. About eighty people sat outdoors at distanced tables in front of a jumbo screen, watching the Milwaukee Bucks play the Brooklyn Nets.

But it wasn’t just a place to slam back a beer and enjoy the breeze. “I’m ambushing people. Yep. Exactly,” said Emily Meyer, a local public health nurse.

Staff from the Milwaukee Health Department were there to get people their COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s worked. It’s worked,” Meyer said. “We’ve gotten a few. I think if you just bring it to people and say it’s here right now, they’re like, ‘OK!’”

Maayan Silver
Health officials distribute the COVID-19 vaccine outside the Bucks game.

A half hour earlier, the health department had been inside Fiserv with a vaccine clinic for people attending the Bucks game.

Dennis Williams is general manager of the Fiserv Forum. “Early on when we were discussing this, the thought was, you know, where can we capture as many people as possible? And to have about 38,00 people on site here today, I mean, what better opportunity than to capture them on a Sunday afternoon?," he said.

Maayan Silver
Bucks fans head upstairs to the Panorama Club where the city of Milwaukee Health Department had set up a vaccination clinic.

As of the beginning of the game, Kirsten Johnson, Milwaukee health commissioner, said the indoor effort had resulted in dozens of people getting vaccinated. It’s all part of the city’s mantra: going where the people are.

“Churches, we've been at the ferry, we've been at the libraries, we've been at a gas station, like anywhere we can get shots in arms, where it's convenient for people, where they're at work, is where we want to be,” she said.

Johnson said 20-30% of the population was really anxious to get the shot and was up for seeking out a place to receive the vaccine. Many people were inoculated at the Wisconsin Center, the mass vaccination site in downtown Milwaukee, which is closing at the end of the month because demand is waning.

Maayan Silver
The Panorama Club at the Fiserv Forum doubled as a COVID-19 vaccine clinic Sunday.

Now, Johnson said the city has to adapt for people who might not find it so convenient to get a vaccine. “So, recognizing that even though Wisconsin Center although it's in the center of Milwaukee, you know, people may need transportation, they may need to get take more than one bus to get there,” she said.

“It takes a lot of time, it takes time out of their day. So again, really meeting people where they are," she said.

Johnson said she foresees neighborhood initiatives, like knocking on doors. “It’s really just again, we want to make sure that there are no barriers and anyone who wants it or interested in it has access," she explained.

As of Thursday, about 30% of city of Milwaukee residents had gotten both shots.

On Sunday, Mika Turner of Wauwatosa joined the crew that got one of them. Outside at the jumbo screen at a table with her friends, she rolled her Brewers jersey up and held out her upper arm for a nurse. “I’ve always thought about getting it, but I never knew where, and then they just walked up to me, so I went for it,” Turner laughed.

She had this review: “I think you should get it. I was scared of needles, and I didn’t feel a thing.”

In addition to these partnership events with the Bucks, there have been conversation with the Milwaukee Brewers about vaccination clinics at their games this summer.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has said if there’s a business that can get the city 50 to 70 arms for shots, it should contact the health department.

Maayan is a WUWM news reporter.
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