Milwaukee to begin vaccinating people 65 and older at Wisconsin Center next week

NOW: Milwaukee to begin vaccinating people 65 and older at Wisconsin Center next week

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Following guidance from the state, Milwaukee will vaccinate people 65 and older beginning on Monday, Jan. 25.

Beginning Monday, the Wisconsin Center will be available for vaccinations seven days a week. The Wisconsin Center is serving as the city's vaccine distribution hub for people in Phase 1a. It is not open to the general public.

Marlaina Jackson, interim commissioner of the Milwaukee Health Department, said starting on Thursday, Jan. 21, city residents who are 65 and older will be able to sign up for time slots online at HealthyMKE.com.

Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said people 65 and older who live outside the city but still within Milwaukee County have a few options to get vaccinated.

"One is through your health system. Certainly it's worth touching base with your health system. A lot of the health departments are also standing up vaccination sites, and as supply becomes more ample hopefully in the very near future, we'll be expanding that out substantially, as well," Weston said.

Jackson said the city is ramping up its vaccine distribution efforts to accommodate more people in the top priority groups.

"It's important for the public to know that this vaccine is safe and it really is the key to moving us through an out of this pandemic," Jackson said.

Jackson said the schedules to vaccinate people at the Wisconsin Center are completely full on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The rest of the week has capacity and is filling up as well so we are confident that by the end of the week we will have over 3,000 individuals on our schedule and vaccinated," Jackson said.

The more than 3,000 people vaccinated this week will include Milwaukee police officers, health care workers and EMS workers.

The city plans to request 5,000 more doses next week.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he remains concerned about racial disparities he's seeing from the data of who's been vaccinated so far.

"We have to make sure that all people in our community know that they can get vaccinated when we reach their designation. Again, we're still in 1a," Barrett said.

He's reminding home health workers and unaffiliated health care workers that they are in 1a and are eligible for the vaccine now.

"They have interactions with older people with sick people. They're at risk. People they serve are at risk. This work leaves both the health care professionals and their vulnerable patients at a high risk of contracting the virus, and a large number of these workers are people of color," Barrett said.

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