'We want to counter that distrust': Milwaukee groups team up to expand COVID-19 vaccination rate

Posted at 6:46 PM, Jul 26, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Organizations in Milwaukee have teamed up to improve vaccine education and expand the vaccination rate in many neighborhoods as COVID-19 cases steadily rise across the state.

The pilot program was launched Monday in Westlawn Gardens Housing Development.

Vaccine advocates went door-to-door, handing out information about the safety of the vaccines available, and the benefits to individuals and those around them.

“So, we’re just trying to make sure everyone can get vaccinated today, come to their home, make it easy for them and accessible,” said Danielle Porter with Jump at the Sun Consultants LLC, a health equity consultancy.

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Porter said if a resident decides they’re ready for a shot after receiving the information, the Milwaukee Health Department will show up day-of to administer the vaccine.

Along with Jump and the Health Department, the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM), Westlawn Resident Council, Milwaukee Fire Department and Silver Spring Neighborhood Center collaborated to bring the project together.

Westlawn Resident Sean Williams said he received his vaccine earlier this year, and he’s backing the door-to-door program for the health of his neighbors.

"We should have had it a long time ago [the program], but I’m glad we got it now. I had second thoughts [about receiving the vaccine], but I feel much better about it now,” said Williams.

COVID-19 cases are again on the rise across the state, including more positive tests of the Delta variant.

And while more than half of Wisconsin residents have received at least one does of the vaccine, the pace has slowed significantly.

First-dose daily vaccinations have averaged 2,915 this month, compared to more than 25,342 in April.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 98.4% of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases (145,759) occurred in people who were unvaccinated.

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Organizations including Jump and HACM say many Westlawn residents have yet to receive the vaccine because of a lack of information, or, in some cases, an abundance of misinformation.

"It’s a result of people not trusting some element of this process,” said Paul Williams with HACM, referring to the need to launch the program. “And we want to counter that distrust, whether it’s uncertainty about the vaccine or misinformation that seems to be everywhere.”

The program also operates vaccine pop-ups in housing developments like Westlawn.

Jamarrion Hasan, 16, showed up to get vaccinated to protect his younger sister, just five years old and unable to receive the vaccine. His grandmother, Kelly Barnes, joined him at the pop-up.

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“I’m glad he got the shot, because he’s helping save lives, and because his little sister is very important to him,” said Barnes.

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