End of an era: Wisconsin Center vaccine site closes, city to aggressively target neighborhoods

End of an era: Wisconsin Center vaccine site closes, city to aggressively target neighborhoods

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee is saying goodbye to its largest vaccine site, but this is nowhere near the end of the city's efforts to get shots in arms.

"That was a very, very successful chapter in this book, and I use the word 'chapter' purposefully because we're on to the next chapter. And the next chapter includes an even more aggressive proactive approach toward getting into the neighborhoods," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told CBS 58.

More than 140,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered at the Wisconsin Center over the course of four and a half months, according to the Milwaukee Health Department.

Barrett said the city is now planning hundreds of vaccine events hoping to target dozens of people at a time.

On Friday, the last day the Wisconsin Center offered vaccines, Marlone Jones and his family took advantage of the opportunity.

"Today I have my 12- and my 15-year-old here to get vaccinated," Jones said. "I, myself, am fully vaccinated, so our goal is to get our whole family vaccinated."

People who got their first dose at the Wisconsin this week will schedule an appointment to get their second dose at the Northwest or South Side health centers.

Barrett said the city's focus now shifts toward people who've had issues with transportation, work schedules or child care, and people who are still on the fence. The massive clinic helped get the city through the period of extreme eagerness for the vaccine.

"We had literally thousands of people, tens of thousands of people who were chomping at the bit to get the vaccine, and that's what the Wisconsin Center really was created for," he said.

Milwaukee city leaders are now considering new ways to incentivize people to get vaccinated.

CVS and Kroger Health both announced sweepstakes this week.

Starting June 1, customers who received or plan to receive a COVID-19 vaccination through CVS Health can enter a sweepstakes for an opportunity to win one of over a thousand prizes through weekly drawings and grand prizes over a six-week period, according to a news release.

Prizes for CVS' sweepstakes include cash, gift cards, a 7-day cruises for two, a VIP trip to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, coupon booklets, a 2022 NCAA Final Four package for two, a VIP package for two to attend iHeartRadio Music Festival and several others.

For Kroger Health's #CommunityImmunity giveaway, starting next week, people who have received their vaccine from Kroger Health can have a shot at winning one of five $1 million payouts and 50 chances to win free groceries for a year, according to a news release.

"We're seeing that -- whether it's Brewers tickets or free beer or tickets to Summerfest. And I think that that's great because different people respond to different incentives," Barrett said.

But for families like the Joneses, protection from the COVID-19 virus is enough of an incentive.

"I actually had COVID myself," Jones said. "I was isolated in my bedroom for three weeks and it had me down for three weeks. So knowing the side effects and the symptoms ... that's not something that I want my children to go through."

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