MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee County officials announced a new program on Thursday aimed at addressing disparities in COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
The county said it will start targeting residents 65 and older in specific zip codes, starting with the 53204 and 53206 zip codes. Officials said those areas have particularly vulnerable populations when it comes to the pandemic.
According to Census Reporter, 70% of residents in the 53204 zip code are Hispanic. In the 53206 zip code, 94% of residents are Black.
"Structural racism is still producing unequal outcomes for our residents in regards to vaccinations and the effects of the pandemic at large, to be honest," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.
Right now in Milwaukee County, people who identify as Black have received just 10.5% of all COVID-19 vaccine doses. For Hispanics or Latinos in the county, it's just under 6%. Meanwhile, white people have received 65.7% of all doses given in the county.
“Using data to identify these populations helps public health officials and health emergency response planners meet the needs of their community,” Crowley said. “During a public health emergency, socially vulnerable populations are especially at risk because of factors like social-economic status, household composition, minority status, or housing type and transportation."
The county is using the CDC's social vulnerability index to determine which zip codes in the city are most at risk.
Dr. Ben Weston, with the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said, "we will certainly work our way through all the zip codes in the county. But we’re starting with the zip codes with the highest vulnerability."
Officials said that between the two zip codes, there are about 6,000 adults over age 65 that are eligible.
To start, Dr. Weston said the program will have about 200 doses available per day, and vaccinations will be given at the Kosciuszko Community Center. Appointments are required and you can register at covidmke.com. Appointments are available as early as Friday morning.
"Our goal really is to remove the barriers to access. These outreach efforts will ultimately help us achieve our vision of being the healthiest county in the state of Wisconsin by striving for racial equity.”