MILWAUKEE — No matter what, Dr. Lyle Ignace is determined to get as many shots in arms as he can.
"We’re putting our best foot forward, and the community has responded, but perhaps not in the same capacity as it was back in March," Dr. Ignace said.
The Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center hosted its third vaccination clinic Tuesday for all Tribal members and households.
Since March, Dr. Ignace says the clinic has vaccinated about 2,500 people. Data from Milwaukee County shows the Center's first clinic in early March nearly launched the American Indian vaccination rate off the chart.
"That week in March, that event, we increased the vaccination by 350 percent," Dr. Ignace said. "We couldn’t ask for a better showing than that."
It's due in part to his persistence in reaching out to the American Indian community. For 70 weeks straight, Dr. Ignace has co-hosted weekly town halls on Facebook. He also went live on Facebook when he got his first dose.
At Tuesday's clinic, Dr. Ignace brought in musician and activist Wade Fernandez to help put everyone at ease.
"Music has a way of calming people and bringing people together as well," Fernandez said. "It feels really nice to be able to see our community coming out."
State data shows 98 American Indian people have died of COVID-19, which makes that the highest death rate among any other racial or ethnic group in Wisconsin. Data shows more than 19,000 American Indian people in Wisconsin have been fully vaccinated.
"My concern, given our younger population are unvaccinated, may be the next surge," Dr. Ignace said.
Any time he can prevent heartbreak from COVID-19 with even a single dose, it makes Dr. Ignace proud.
"It really makes this job rewarding and reassuring that we’re doing the right thing," Dr. Ignace said.