Mayor Tom Barrett gets flu shot to promote importance of vaccination

MILWAUKEE -- Mayor Tom Barrett got his flu shot in front of dozens today to share the importance of getting vaccinated before winter.

Barrett was at Neighborhood House where dozens of kids and adults were getting flu shots for free today. They anticipate giving out about 100 vaccinations. 

"It's not often I'm willing to endure pain on behalf of the City of Milwaukee but today is an example of me doing that because the flu shot is so darn important," Jeff Martinka, Executive Director of Neighborhood House said. 

Last flu season was the deadliest on record for kids. The Centers for Disease Control say 172 children died from the virus. It's why they recommend everyone over the age of six months old get the vaccine. Especially kids and those over 65, like Mayor Tom Barrett whose 65th birthday is coming up in December. 

"I'm getting closer," Barrett joked about his upcoming birthday. "I think all adults should. No reason not to get it. Even if you don't care about yourself, you come into contact with a lot of people. We don't want the flu to be spread."

The spread of the flu is something extremely important to new Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik. She gets the shot every year because she suffers from two autoimmune disorders. So the flu could be even more devastating if she gets it. 

"It's extremely important for me to make sure I'm protecting myself," Kowalik said. "I encourage everyone to get vaccinated not just for yourself, but the community."

Monday morning at Neighborhood House, dozens of small children screamed through their flu shot. The tears are their badges of honor for short term pain. The hope is in the long term, there won't be more tears. 

"It's important to get the flu shot because it helps prevent illness," Phan Sanford with Neighborhood House said. "A healthy family creates a healthy home."

While flu season seems like it's a long time away, Mayor Barrett says now is the time for people to get vaccinated. 

"It's like checking batteries in a smoke detector," Barrett said. "October is a good time to remind people of their flu shot. It's before the holidays, before the rush and before flu season actually hits."

The Milwaukee Health Department reminds all parents, kids under the age of 18 can get the flu shot for free. For more information, you can visit, https://city.milwaukee.gov/Health/.


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