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Milwaukee Seeks More Ambassadors For Crush COVID Crew

Michelle Maternowski
The Milwaukee Health Department is hoping to recruit more people into its Crush COVID Crew.

This may well be the week Wisconsin announces that 50% of state residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. State figuresreleased Friday show about 46% of residents have finished the vaccine series.

Milwaukee County numbers remain a few percentage points below the state, but local officials say they still hope to get more shots in arms.

The Milwaukee Health Department is offering two virtual information sessions Tuesday, aimed at recruiting more people into the department's Crush COVID Crew. Mayor Tom Barrett said it's for people who are passionate about informing their social networks about the vaccine.

"The goal of the program is to address misconceptions and concerns about vaccine safety and effectiveness by providing influential voices and organizations with consistent and verified COVID-19 messaging and updates," Barrett told the news media last week.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee County said a targeted messaging program from trusted sources is improving vaccination rates at the House of Correction — 54% of inmates have been fully vaccinated, up from 22% a couple months ago.

Rob "Biko" Baker of the digital marketing firm Render said every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, his team of cultural influencers present to the inmates.

Rob "Biko" Baker speaks to news reporters during a virtual briefing.
Rob "Biko" Baker speaks to news reporters during a virtual briefing.

"We let them know that their lives are valuable to us, and that we aren't trying to put the vaccines on them. Rather, we want them to make choices to prioritize their health, the health of their fellow residents, communities and families. We remind them they are a leader, even if they are in the House of Correction, and the choices they make affect us all," he said.

Baker said there are both group and individual discussions. He and his team, he said, often cut through misconceptions about side effects and the effectiveness of the vaccine.

In a far different approach to immunizations. U.S. Senator Ron Johnson is planning a Monday morning news conference in Milwaukee with families, who Johnson says, will share stories of their adverse reactions to the COVID vaccines. Doctors have urged the Wisconsin Republican to cancel the event.

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