'We want them to be safe': Kids get free vaccines, masks, school supplies at Back-to-School Health Fair

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- With the first day of school just around the corner, the Milwaukee Department of Health held their 21st annual Back-to-School Health Fair Friday at Fiserv Forum.

It's an important year for the event, as kids and parents prepare for another year with Covid-19 at the top of mind.

Visitors to the Health Fair could pick up a free backpack and other school supplies.

MDH also provided routine immunizations, blood-lead-level testing, check-ups, and COVID-19 vaccines on site for free.

"We want our kids to be vaccinated when they go back to school, we want them to be safe, and we want them to stay in school this year," said MDH Health Commissioner, Kirsten Johnson.

Another prevention tool is making a return to the classroom this fall - masks.

"We'll be tying masking to community levels. The CDC community levels are reported on a weekly basis, and when we're in high, kids will be wearing masks," Johnson said.

While masking remains controversial, some parents believe it's worth it to keep kids in school.

"If they want to have some kind of normalcy in school being close to each other, at least a mask is going to prevent some kind of transmission between it, and they can still play with each other as long as they're still protected somehow," said parent, Anna Boyd.

As COVID transmission fluctuates in the community, the masking protocol will stay flexible.

"The data's collected on a weekly basis and then we'll report out at the end of the week, and masks will either come off or be put on the following week," Johnson said.

New data released Thursday shows Milwaukee County has seen more than 290 COVID cases in children under 18 just this week. The county remains in the "High" community risk category.

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