By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
The COVID-19 vaccine is available, but it’s not currently available to everyone. In the City of Milwaukee, the vaccine was limited to essential workers, then senior citizens and other city employees and now another category is joining the group.
The Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Wisconsin and the City of Milwaukee Health Department announced it was teaming up to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to teachers and childcare providers.
Deputy Health Commissioner Marlaina Jackson said the goal is to administer the vaccine to eligible educators and childcare providers the first two weeks of March. It is available to educators who live or work in the City of Milwaukee, and those who fall under that category can register at the City of Milwaukee website at city.milwaukee.gov/CovidVax.
The Pfizer vaccine will be administrated. And in an effort to meet community members where they are, the vaccine distribution sites are being extended to include North Division High School, 1011 W. Center St., South Division High School, 1515 W. Lapham Blvd., the Mitchell Street Library, 906 W. Historic Mitchell St., and the Villard Street Library, 5190 N. 35th St., in addition to the Wisconsin Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave.
The library clinics are for educators only, Jackson said, with North Division and South Division being reserved for MPS staff.
The Wisconsin Center will be operating from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, March 8 through Friday, March 12. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 13 and Sunday, March 14. North Division High School will be operating from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9 and Thursday, March 11; South Division High School from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10 and Friday, March 12; Mitchell Library from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9 and Villard Library from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10.
Additional information can be found on the City of Milwaukee Health Department Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MKEHealth/.
“Partnerships have been so important in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Tom Barrett said during the press conference on Wednesday, March 3.
A lot of work has gone into this, he said while praising the collaborative efforts between the health department, the Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Wisconsin.
“Getting teachers and early childhood educators vaccinated is a priority,” Barrett said.
Dr. Mike Gutzeit, chief medical officer, Children’s Wisconsin, emphasized that it will take a large team to make this goal happen. Making the vaccine available to educators is providing a pathway through this pandemic, he said.
“We know that vaccines are one of those really important steps forward,” he said. “And we want to make sure that we get those into the arms of educators as quickly as possible to allow kids to get back into classrooms, to allow kids to get back into childcare areas.”
Dr. Kristin Busse, COVID-19 vaccine program manager of Medical College of Wisconsin, said the college will coordinate vaccine inventory with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the City of Milwaukee Health Department and prepare vaccine dosages. It will also be offering volunteers.
Volunteers will help with vaccine preparation, registration and check-in, vaccine administration and more, Dr. Heather Paradis, deputy commissioner of medical services Medical College of Wisconsin, said.
These efforts demonstrate a recognition on the importance of education, Barrett said.
“We understand how important it is, both for the educators and for the children, that the educators be vaccinated,” Barrett said. “We’ve attempted to move heaven and earth to make sure that we can these vaccinations into people’s arms safety, efficiently and in a very coordinated fashion by the middle of March.”