Milwaukee residents who were eager to get vaccinated have likely had that opportunity at this point, Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said Friday.
Now her department is turning its attention to people who are likely to get vaccinated but who are not making it a top priority.
That means focusing resources on smaller pop-up vaccination sites across the city in addition to more permanent vaccination sites in the community, she said during a wide-ranging Milwaukee Press Club Newsmaker Lunch Hour discussion with a panel of journalists.
“I think bringing vaccine to where people are is really where we’re going to get to that next percentage of people who are interested in being vaccinated,” she said.
The city and local organizations have also received funds from the state for vaccine education, she said.
And the city is training about 300 formal and informal city leaders to provide information and answer residents’ questions, Johnson said.
The city will need to focus on one-on-one interactions to allay residents’ fears and increase vaccinations, she said. But with the department reaching the limits of its own capacity, it will have to rely on other organizations to do much of those personal contacts, she said.
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This week’s pause in the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has also complicated the city’s plans for the smaller community vaccination sites.
State and federal regulators called for temporarily stopping its use due to reports of six women who developed rare blood clots after receiving the vaccine. Nearly 7 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the United States.
The Milwaukee Health Department has administered just 1,865 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Local health leaders were planning to increase the city’s use of the one-dose vaccine because of its ease of use compared to the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna options.
This means the city will have to return to provide second doses for everyone who receives a first dose at the smaller community vaccination sites.
Johnson said she hopes the pause will be temporary.
“I am hopeful that we will be able to continue leaning into Johnson & Johnson,” she said. “The pause on its use is really out of an abundance of caution.”
It allows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to gather more information to determine how safe it is and if its use should be limited to specific populations, she said.
Statewide metrics have declined the last two days
The state Department of Health Services reported a seven-day average of 754 cases, a two-day decline from its peak of 823 cases on April 14. That’s an optimistic sign as fears of a new peak are mounting.
Seven-day average deaths are at four a day, even with the number of deaths a month ago. The positivity rate declined as well to 3.6%.
People under the age of 18 continue to hold the highest number of positive tests this week as there are growing concerns over the effect new variants have on children.
The state’s health department did not release new vaccine numbers on Friday.
Latest COVID-19 numbers
- New cases reported: 709
- New deaths reported: 5
- Number hospitalized: 309 (intensive care: 86); up 94 patients from a month ago
- Seven-day average of daily cases: 754 (up 315 cases from one month ago)
- Seven-day average of daily deaths: 4 (even from one month ago)
- Seven-day average positivity rate — as a share of all tests given: 3.6%
- Total cases since the start of pandemic: 589,213 (9,195 active cases)
- Total deaths: 6,703
Latest vaccine numbers
- Total doses administered: 3,693,199
- Daily doses administered: 50,410
- Wisconsin residents with at least one dose: 2,239,906 (38.5% of the population)
- Residents who are fully vaccinated: 1,504,167 (25.8% of the population)
- Residents 65 and older with at least one dose: 802,256 (78.9% of 65+ population)