WEST ALLIS — Our state’s Department of Health Services partnered with the Wisconsin State Fair this year to offer the COVID-19 vaccine inside the fairgrounds.
Any fair-goer who stops to get the vaccine gets a voucher for a free cream puff.
The COVID-19 vaccine clinic runs every day of the state fair, Aug. 5-15. It will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The clinic has the capacity to administer 250 shots each day. It’s offering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, which is the only option approved for kids over the age of 12. Anyone between the ages of 12 and 17 who shows up to get the shot must be accompanied by a guardian in order to receive it.
On opening day of the state fair Thursday, it took our TMJ4 News crew one hour to even get in the gate. Lines of cars and people wrapped around the entrances.
Getting through the sea of people inside Wisconsin State Fair Park was the next challenge. Once we made it to the COVID-19 vaccine tent, it was a different story. Very few people were gathered there. The nurses working the clinic took it upon themselves to try and recruit fair-goers.
“We got cream puffs if you get your COVID-19 vaccine with us,” nurse Latisha O’Conner said as people passed by.
A lot of fair-goers replied honestly, saying they didn’t want the vaccine.
“We’re not vaccinated, and we don’t plan on getting the vaccine,” one fair-goer told Latisha.
The team of nurses admit this work has gotten a bit disheartening.
“There’s a small level of frustration, because at first, there were so many people getting their shots, then it stopped, and we thought if we came into the community and showed up at events, it would pick up. But we’re finding that’s not really the case,” O’Conner said.
“A lot of times we’re not giving out a lot of vaccines at these events, but we’re answering people’s questions,” said nurse practitioner Emily Patzer. “They have a lot of questions, like will I need a booster dose? Will I get sick? We’re happy to try and clear up any misinformation.”
But we witnessed at least 10 times today, when they reached the right people, the nurses succeeded in getting more shots in arms.
“I wasn’t going to get it at all, but I said why not?” said a fair-goer from Janesville. “I’m really only doing it today because it’s quick and convenient.”
“It’s right here and I have access to it,” said Patrick Schwartz of Milwaukee.
“I was up in the air for a while about whether it’s going to work or not,” said Timothy Jones of West Allis. “But then my family and friends got it and didn’t have any problems, and I figured it’s a way of life nowadays. We don’t want to get sick, and we don’t want to get other people we care about sick either.”