Milwaukee officials urge 65+ age group to register for vaccine appointments; walk-ins not accepted

NOW: Milwaukee officials urge 65+ age group to register for vaccine appointments; walk-ins not accepted

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee's mayor said the city will begin vaccinating people 65 and older next week at the Wisconsin Center.

But city and county health officials warn the supply still has not caught up with the overwhelming demand.

"It's critical to remember that in this time of national vaccine shortages, unfortunately, eligibility does not mean availability," said Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

By the end of the day Thursday, Jan. 28, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said more than 4,600 vaccines will have been administered in total.

Barrett said the 65 and older age group will get vaccinations at the Wisconsin Center starting on Monday, Jan. 28. The vaccinations will only be by appointment, and walk-ins will not be accepted.

"I don't want people to rush in there and be disappointed. Make sure you're working through either calling the health department or going to the website to make the reservation and have them contact you," Barrett said.

City officials said people 65 and older should register at HealthyMKE.com. Then, their health care systems will contact them and they will be directed to the best way to register for an appointment.

"Each of our health care systems are reaching out to their patients as quickly as possible and scheduling tens of thousands of appointments to get this key population safely and efficiently vaccinated," Weston said.

Weston said for people in the older age group who are associated with independent clinics or federally qualified health centers, or do not have a health care provider at all, they should also sign up at HealthyMKE.com.

Lisa Lamkins, advocacy director for AARP Wisconsin, said her organization will be pushing for what she calls "lower tech" ways to register for a vaccine, such as a statewide 1-800 number.

"For a lot of folks, especially older folks, they're just not on their computers or their cellphones as much as providers would think that they are," she said.

Lamkins heads AARP's vaccine outreach campaign. She said members and their families have been reaching out with questions. She's encouraging them to start with their own doctor or health system.

"It's great if you can do the appointment or get your name on a list online, but if you can't, don't be afraid to call. I know they're overwhelmed. But this is a time that you need to be an advocate for your own health as well," she said.

Darren Rausch, health officer for the Greenfield Health Department, said there is no need for people in the 65 and older age group to register for multiple lists. He said they also do not need to go to other counties to try and get the vaccine if they live in Milwaukee County.

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