Milwaukee to receive hundreds of vaccine doses; Wisconsin Center to open as distribution hub

NOW: Milwaukee to receive hundreds of vaccine doses; Wisconsin Center to open as distribution hub

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- An emotional week among more than a hundred Milwaukee city employees as they start to get the coronavirus shots. Many more doses are on the way.

The city now preparing to open up the Wisconsin Center as a vaccine distribution site where people in Phase 1A can get vaccinated. Vaccines are still not available for the general public and won't be for several months.

Marlaina Jackson, interim commissioner for the Milwaukee Health Department, said public health nurses will be trained on Monday. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the goal is to open the Wisconsin Center on Tuesday.

"The real purpose here of using the Wisconsin Center is that we are going to see dramatic increases in the number of dosages that we receive," Barrett said.

Stations will be set up inside for firefighters and public health workers to get their shots.

Marty Brooks, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Center District, called it an "honor" for the city to be able to use the space.

"We're also able to to bring in outside air, mix that with internal air so that we know that we're providing a very safe environment for everyone who not only is working of the vaccination process, but those coming into our facility to get the vaccine," Brooks said.

Barrett said security will be a top priority aiming to avoid what happened at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton. A former employee was arrested after being accused of tampering with COVID-19 vaccines.

"What has been done to address the security concerns in light of what had occurred last month at the Grafton facility? The freezer is located in a locked location. The location has a very limited access. It needs a key card to be accessed," Barrett said.

He said there will be surveillance cameras monitoring the room, and the health department has also been working with law enforcement.

Barrett said the city has already used up its first allocation of COVID-19 vaccines, which came in on Wednesday and allowed 120 city employees in Phase 1A to be vaccinated this week. They included firefighters and people who work at city clinics and testing sites.

"Individuals who are getting vaccinated feel a sense of hope and relief, and individuals that are actually doing the vaccinations also feel the same way," Jackson said.

Another set of shots will come to Milwaukee next week allowing for more than 900 additional people to be vaccinated. The city will get more doses in the weeks following.

"Right now, we are going to be operating six days a week, and we absolutely will just have to adjust the best we can as we move into those larger numbers," Jackson said.

Share this article: