Churches, grocery stores offer walk-in vaccine clinics as demand decreases

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- From grocery stores to churches, walk-in vaccine clinics are popping up in places that are part of everyday life.

"We're at a time right now in our country's history and certainly in our state's history and in our city's history where the question we face is, do we get the shot?" asked Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said county leaders are shifting their strategy to help get more shots in arms.

"We're seeing it with increased walk-in centers. We're seeing it with increased mobile sites, increased pop-up sites, increased events across the county where vaccine comes to people in times and places that are convenient as opposed to asking everybody to come to us," Weston said.

Weston said about 8,000 new people in Milwaukee County are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 each day.

The city of Milwaukee will close the Wisconsin Center on May 28. Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said after that, people will still be able to get vaccines at the Northwest Health Center and South Side Health Center.

The grocery chain Meijer announced this week it will offer a walk-in vaccine program at all of its locations.

Part of the strategy also involves bringing vaccines to churches and other community centers.

"People trust the churches, and they trust the pastors and such, and they have gotten services from them in other ways," said Ericka Sinclair, CEO of Health Connections, Inc.

Health Connections, Inc. is partnering with Souls to the Polls, MICAH and Pastor's United to offer a number of walk-in clinics, including one on Tuesday, April 27 at Grace Fellowship Church.

"Our goal is to make sure that we're able to bring the COVID vaccine to the community, so that they have the opportunity to take it in a space that they're comfortable in," Sinclair said.

Barrett said offering vaccines at churches has proved to be an effective strategy.

"I absolutely love these partnerships with churches, with community groups, with others. As long as we have willing partners who will produce arms for us, I want to keep doing this because I think ... it is one of the most, if not the most effective way to get people vaccination," Barrett said.

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