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Barrett Calls For Equitable Vaccine Distribution, As Milwaukee County Lags State In Shots Given

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett speaks during a virtual press conference Thursday, Feb. 11.

Milwaukee’s mayor is asking the state for more COVID-19 vaccine, as data show Milwaukee County lagging in the percentage of people vaccinated.

Tom Barrett reacted after state Department of Health Services data Thursday showed 11% of Wisconsinites have gotten at least one COVID shot, compared to just 8% in Milwaukee County.

There are also stark racial disparities. Ten percent of white Wisconsinites have been vaccinated, compared to just 3% of Black and Hispanic residents.

In a press call Thursday, Barrett questioned the state’s vaccine distribution formula. He said Milwaukee County should get priority, since residents here experience some of the worst health outcomes in the state.

“Here we are coming off a year where the cries have been for equity and racial justice,” Barrett said. “And I think we’re being tested in real time about how we’re responding to that. And we simply cannot allow the county that is near the bottom of the list in terms of health to be near the bottom in terms of number of vaccines we get per person. That is not acceptable.”

Barrett acknowledged that the state’s vaccine supply is limited, and most counties are likely getting far less than they want.

Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said Thursday that three weeks ago, DHS started taking population into account when distributing vaccine, which should help urban areas get more doses. She added that the department is evaluating other ways to make vaccine distribution more equitable.

Emily is WUWM's education reporter.
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