MILWAUKEE — Starting next Monday, Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee will begin vaccinating anyone over the age of 18 in 10 ZIP codes identified with the highest social vulnerability ratings and lowest vaccination rates.
The announcement is a sign the area is beginning to ramp up efforts to vaccinate more of its residents, particularly people in underserved communities of color. The Wisconsin Department of Health Resources currently lists Milwaukee County as trailing in the vaccine effort among the state's 72 counties.
City and county leaders made the announcement at a press briefing Tuesday. As TMJ4's Tom Durian reports, eligible residents are able to get the vaccine in the following zip codes: 53204, 53206, 53205, 53218, 53215, 53223, 53216, 53209, 53224 and 53233.
Starting Monday Milwaukee City/County will start vaccinating anyone over the age of 18 in 10 city zip codes identified with the highest social vulnerability ratings and lowest vaccination rates. 53204, 53206, 53205, 53218, 53215, 53223, 53216, 53209, 53224, 53233 @tmj4 pic.twitter.com/97pqmQ4JSM— Tom Durian (@TMJ4Tom) March 16, 2021
It is also a huge step in eliminating racial disparities made worse by the pandemic.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley wrote on social media Tuesday that the ZIP-code effort will help in that regard.
"Utilizing the ZIP code data is a step in the right direction towards serving our underrepresented neighborhoods of color and instilling confidence that they will be treated with equity and respect in our healthcare system," Crowley writes.
"We here at Milwaukee County thank @GovEvers for working with us to address the dramatic disparities we’re experiencing locally when it comes to equitable vaccine distribution and uplifting our vision and mission of achieving racial equity and becoming the healthiest county in WI," according to Crowley.
Important Update: Starting this Monday, everyone 18 and older who lives in the 10 MKE zip codes ranking highest on the CDC's social vulnerability index are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Go to https://t.co/PDG9xGJyEF or https://t.co/dFFU9tLqX7 to make an appointment now. pic.twitter.com/aXcgnJczft— David C. Crowley (@DavidCrowleyWI) March 16, 2021
As of Tuesday, 19.1 percent of residents in Milwaukee County have received at least one dose, while 9.5 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. (The Johnson and Johnson vaccine only requires one dose to be effective.) That's compared to 26.1 percent with at least one dose in Dane County, and 16.4 percent who have completed their vaccination.
The announcement falls on the same day that state leaders decided to move up vaccine eligibility for up to 3 million residents with certain health conditions.
The list of medical conditions included in phase 1C of the state’s distribution plan is exhaustive. Anyone 16 and older with asthma, cancer, down syndrome, heart and lung conditions and many more qualify. The eligibility date would be moved from March 29 to March 22, due to the availability of vaccine supply and vaccine appointments, according to health leaders.
The Milwaukee Health Department is expanding its vaccination efforts in the ten zip codes, including operating two community vaccination clinics at North Division High School, 1011 W. Center St. and South Division High School, 1515 W. Lapham Blvd. These sites will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from March 22 to April 19. With FEMA support at the Wisconsin Center, the Milwaukee Health Department is also setting up additional sites in collaboration with partners.