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Milwaukee partners with Betty Brinn Children's Museum to vaccinate kids at pop-up clinic

Betty Brinn vaccine clinic.
Eddie Morales
Kelly Goman took her 2-year-old son to the Betty Brinn Children's Museum on July 11 during a pop-up vaccination clinic.

For some parents at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum on Monday, it was the perfect place to get their children vaccinated.

Kelly Goman’s 2-year-old son, Oliver, sat on her lap while she and a registered nurse talked him through the process. Parents like Goman encouraged their kids to get through their fear of the shot by looking forward to the museum’s attractions.

Goman said it was great timing to get her son vaccinated. They were headed to the museum when they saw signs for a COVID-19 vaccine clinic welcoming kids as young as six months. The museum partnered with the City of Milwaukee Health Department to offer free admission that day for vaccine recipients.

Heather Paradis, medical director for the City of Milwaukee, said the city’s health department is hopeful that entire families will take the opportunity to get vaccinated.

"As we come below 18 years of age, it gets lower and lower — our vaccination rates," she said. "Our 5-to 12-year-olds are just over 20% in the City of Milwaukee who are vaccinated and we'd love to see that get higher."

Paradis said the health department is aware that the vaccines might not be as effective against COVID variants, but it can still make a difference in how sick a person could get.

"Everything that we have seen thus far does indicate that our vaccines are still very effective, even against the new variants that are coming out when we look at disease — both actual disease incidence as well as severity of disease. So, prevention of hospitalization and death, that data remains strikingly clear that vaccination is the best medicine," she said.

Registered Nurse Debra Sackmaster administers a COVID-19 vaccine to William Robinson at the Betty Brinn Children's Museum.
Eddie Morales
Registered Nurse Debra Sackmaster administers a COVID-19 vaccine to William Robinson at the Betty Brinn Children's Museum.

William Robinson brought his 2-year-old son to the museum, but only Robinson received the vaccine.

When vaccines first became available, Robinson was hesitant. But at the museum’s pop-up clinic, he received a booster dose. He said he didn’t feel comfortable getting the shot until he did some research, and a trusted friend at the city health department advised him to get it.

"The only reason why I did it — it took my best friend to talk to me really, to convince (me)," Robison said. "But my son, that's a whole different thing. I will wait until some time passes, even if I decide to consider to get him vaccinated. But he ain’t getting no vaccination no time soon."

For Kelly Goman, getting her son vaccinated offers her peace of mind after her family got sick in February while she was pregnant.

"Luckily, we were all pretty mild. But obviously he was still at risk more than us until we got him vaccinated. We were happy to see that they finally opened it up to his age group and then as soon as his little baby brother gets to six months, we'll probably do him as well," she said.

Heather Paradis said the health department is partnering with more local agencies that serve families with young children.

According to a City of Milwaukee Health Department news release, COVID-19 vaccines can be safely administered concurrently with other required childhood immunizations. Current vaccination sites at the Northwest and Southside Health Centers accept walk-ins.

Eddie is a WUWM news reporter.
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