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Changes To Milwaukee COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Could Include New FEMA Vaccination Site

Chuck Quirmbach
The county-run Kosciuszko Park Community Center on Milwaukee's south side is now a vaccination site for some people who already receive Milwaukee County services.

There's been a shifting of a major COVID-19 vaccination site in the Milwaukee area and more sites are coming — eventually. Some of the locations could help ease racial disparities in vaccinations that include fewer Black and Latino people receiving the vaccine than their percentages in the population.

Milwaukee County officials have announced that a county immunization site near Mitchell Airport set up for state-eligible county workers, first responders and law enforcement personnel has moved this week to the Kosciuszko Park Community Center, which is located in a mostly Latino neighborhood on Milwaukee's south side.

Dr. Ben Weston is with Milwaukee County Emergency Management. He said the site will also provide shots to vaccine-eligible people, including those over 65 who already receive other county services.

"This work at the ‘Kozzy’ Community Center is an example of the targeted outreach that we as a county are doing to address and overcome these disparities. And this is just the beginning. We're working with the health systems and the health departments to provide information and tools and models to better understand disparities and target vaccination efforts to target these inequities,” said Weston.

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said people who need a ride to the site can get one. "If you don't have transportation, when we contact you, we'll talk to you about that and make sure we can provide you transportation," he said. 

Crowley also urged county residents who want the vaccine to keep contacting their health care provider, local pharmacies or community clinic.

Credit Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM
Flags have been lowered to half-staff at State Fair Park and other sites this week to remember those who have died from COVID-19.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced Tuesday that four new community vaccinations clinics are coming to Wisconsin over the next two months, including one at an unnamed site in Racine County.

Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said the reason Milwaukee County is not getting one of those clinics is because the state and local officials are talking with the Federal Emergency Management Agency about a larger FEMA-run site in Milwaukee.

"One of the big advantages for the Milwaukee area for that site would be not only additional resources coming into the community. But the resources that Milwaukee has been using to provide vaccination at the Wisconsin Center can be redeployed throughout the city to move into neighborhoods where vaccination may be lower, particularly neighborhoods of people of color,” she said.

Willems Van Dijk said it appears the vaccine supply for the FEMA site would come from the state's allotment, and not be an additional federal one. But she said that could eventually change. 

Milwaukee officials said they hope to have the FEMA site open by mid-March. The city said by the end of next week it hopes to have two mobile vaccination teams working in underserved neighborhoods.

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