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Milwaukee Urban League CEO Says 'Personal Connections' Can Boost COVID-19 Vaccinations

Milwaukee North Division High School Vaccination Clinic
Chuck Quirmbach
People wait for the opening of a vaccination clinic at Milwaukee North Division High School on March 22.

A Milwaukee community leader is giving more insight into COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among some Black residents.

Eve Hall is president and CEO of the Milwaukee Urban League.

She told news reporters Tuesday that last weekend, the Urban League gave 57 laptop computers to student award winners and their families, who came in one by one to pick up the device.

"We had to make sure people were vaccinated or not vaccinated so we knew how to handle our masks. And, there were a good number who were still hesitant, were still not getting vaccinated because of fear and not really feeling comfortable enough to know the information," Hall said.

Hall said she learned from the event that developing personal connections with people can make a difference, admitting to parents that she originally was not going to get vaccinated.

"And I shared with the fact quite frankly that I wasn't taking the shot. When it first came out, I was very hesitant. I said, 'I'm not taking it and I'm not going to get it to my mom.' But then I also had to take a look at I'm a leader in this community," she said.

Hall said she attended webinars with medical experts including ones who are Black, and said those sessions allayed her fears.

Milwaukee Urban League President and CEO Eve Hall speaks to the news media Tuesday.
Milwaukee Urban League President and CEO Eve Hall speaks to the news media Tuesday.

Now, she said her office has joined about two dozen other Urban League chapters around the U.S. for the All-In Campaign that is gathering data and helping make sure there's equitable distribution of the vaccine, including to nontraditional sites. Hall said she hopes to have the Milwaukee chapter host a vaccination clinic soon.

It's not just Black neighborhoods with lower vaccination rates, of course. Wisconsin figures show immunizations lagging in mostly white, conservative areas.

For example, just 37% of people in Walworth County have completed the vaccination series, 36% in Dodge County. Milwaukee County is 41% complete and the state is nearing 45%.

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