MILWAUKEE — As Omicron continues to surge, Milwaukee County health officials say just about 63% of residents are vaccinated.
Although there has been improvement since the beginning of the pandemic, disparities remain in the vaccination rate for communities of color.
"When we look at vaccinations in Milwaukee County in the beginning, if you go way back to the beginning of the pandemic, about 10% of vaccines went to our most vulnerable populations. It was an extremely low number," said Milwaukee County's Chief Health Policy Advisor Dr. Ben Weston.
He said that number has now gone up to about 50%, but there's still room to improve.
"When you look at national data, and I think a lot of this applies to Milwaukee County as well, there is an overlap between misinformation and barriers to access," Dr. Weston said.
Clinics at community centers like Running Rebels can certainly help to remove those barriers.
"We can put trust in the community. You can come in, you can get vaccinated, or if you have questions, you can speak to the doctors who are on site or the nurses who are on site too," said Running Rebels Community Organizer Jeremiah Thomas.
Running Rebels has already hosted several vaccine clinics in the last few months. The organization is hosting more this week.
COVID-19 and flu shots will be available at the Running Rebels Capitol Dr. location from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Another vaccine clinic will be held on Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Running Rebels location on Fond du Lac Ave.
"Our biggest concern is that a lot of people are not getting the vaccine or they just don't know the information about it," Thomas said. "Especially because we are a marginalized group and it's affecting the Black community really heavily."
In the 53212 zip code where the Captiol Dr. location is, just 47.6% of residents are fully vaccinated. In the 53205 zip code where the Fond du Lac Ave. location is, 46% of residents are vaccinated. The lowest rate in the city is in the 53206 zip code where only 36.9% of residents are vaccinated.
Those three zip codes have a majority Black population, and those vaccine rates are below the city-wide rate of 61%.
Thomas encourages the community to come by one of the Running Rebels vaccine clinics even if you don't plan on getting vaccinated to at least get your questions answered by the healthcare providers on site.
"Community health is really important to me because we just don't have a lot of access to healthcare and stuff like that, so that's why we're doing this and why we're trying to make sure that people get the word," Thomas said.
He said he's also seen first hand the toll the pandemic has taken on the youth at Running Rebels.
"If there are no youth that come in and enjoy their free time and express themselves because of the mandates and because people aren't getting vaccinated, it's just going to continue to hold a lot of us back and our youth back. It's sad that I see that," Thomas said.
Appointments are recommended for the Running Rebels vaccines clinics, but walk-ins are welcome. You can email email@example.com to schedule an appointment.