MILWAUKEE — The city of Milwaukee has received the green light to begin vaccinating city employees at the Wisconsin Center starting on Tuesday.
As of Monday, the city said it has only vaccinated about 120 of its employees on the front lines of the pandemic. Mayor Tom Barrett is hopeful the city will soon be able to vaccinate a thousand people a day inside the Wisconsin Center.
Wisconsin Center ballrooms that were created to host conventions will now be used to immunize the city of Milwaukee’s most vulnerable staff.
“This is an effort to do this as quickly as possible, as efficiently as possible and as safely as possible,” Mayor Barrett said.
Mayor Barrett said the city is renting four ballrooms using federal money allocated to the state for vaccination efforts. Patients will register in the first room, submit their paperwork in the next, then enter individual rooms to get their shot.
“The simplicity of it underscores the efficiency of it,” Mayor Barrett said.
The Milwaukee Health Department said 18 vaccine rooms will soon be doubled to 36 as the city’s efforts ramp up. Mayor Barrett said the city will be receiving Pfizer vaccine shipments which require ultra-cold storage. The Wisconsin Center already has a refrigeration system installed at an undisclosed and secure location inside its building.
Milwaukee Health Department preparedness coordinator Nick Tomaro said the Wisconsin Center’s 30-foot tall ceilings, special air filtration system and 24-hour security were major selling points.
“Our main goal in choosing this type of facility was one where we knew we could have a little bit more of a controlled environment,” he said.
The last stop for patients before going home is a waiting room. People who get vaccinated at the Wisconsin Center will have to stay 30 minutes after receiving their shot in case they have immediate side effects. Milwaukee Health Department Medical Director Dr. Heather Paradis said 120 city employees received their first dose of the vaccine last week. One person reported having an adverse reaction.
“It would be classified as a less severe reaction,” Dr. Paradis said. “We did still make the necessary reporting and are recommending that that individual not follow up vaccination at this point in time.”
Mayor Barrett said this vaccination hub will not be open to the general public until the state deems its their turn to get vaccinated.