FEMA begins support of Milwaukee vaccination effort at Wisconsin Center
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The city’s vaccination efforts are getting an additional boost from the federal government with the arrival of FEMA personnel at the city’s mass vaccination site in the Wisconsin Center.
“We truly appreciate this much-needed support from our federal partners at FEMA that comes at a critical time when Wisconsin is receiving more vaccine and we need more vaccinators getting shots into arms,” Governor Tony Evers said in a statement. “This mass vaccination clinic can help with the larger population while allowing our partners at the city and county levels to focus on getting the vaccine to more vulnerable populations in harder to reach areas of their communities.”
FEMA support arrived Monday, March 15 in the form of 57 medical workers, 25 registered nurses and other staff.
“The federal government is bringing in additional vaccinators,” Dan Shulman, with FEMA Region 5, told reporters Monday. “We have, we have volunteers that are supporting the operation with intake and showing people where to go. We have contracted staff that are taking people’s temperatures as they come in to make sure that everyone is safe. So there’s a lot of different people from a lot of different organizations supporting this effort.”
The state said it is providing at least 7,000 weekly vaccine doses from the state’s allocation for the Wisconsin Center site.
While FEMA’s presence doesn’t automatically bring more doses to the city, it does help free up resources.
“FEMA’s work here in Milwaukee is a valuable addition to our efforts. The new people and resources help expand our capacity, and, importantly, allows us to redeploy local vaccinators to underserved and under-vaccinated areas of the city,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement. “All the partners in planning for FEMA’s arrival have worked collaboratively and kept the focus on vaccinating as many people as possible promptly and efficiently.”
FEMA is also working in collaboration with Team Rubicon, a veteran-led, volunteer disaster relief organization.
“Our volunteers are used to spending a week or more away from home, deploying to hurricanes along the Gulf Coast or tornadoes in the Midwest,” Team Rubicon Operations Associate John Stuhlmacher told CBS 58. “But they aren’t really given an opportunity to serve right at home in their own communities.”
Stuhlmacher said Team Rubicon’s volunteers are proud to help their community.
“They aren’t getting paid for it,” Stuhlmacher said. "They’re getting paid in ‘thank yous’ and smiles, having a grandmother say she can now go hug her grandkids and that’s payment enough.”
Eligibility at the Wisconsin Center vaccination site is also expanding from just those who live and work in Milwaukee to all eligible Wisconsin residents in the region.