COVID-19 vaccine demand down in Milwaukee County, officials say

Milwaukee city and county leaders continued Tuesday, April 20 to urge residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine as fewer people are seeking out the shots.

As COVID-19 vaccine supply continues to outpace demand, leaders are adjusting their strategy to get people vaccinated.

"We have a robust supply of vaccine for Milwaukee residents," Mayor Tom Barrett said. "We are trying to bring the shots to the people."

In the past, the Milwaukee Health Department has turned to mass vaccination sites -- such as the Wisconsin Center or at North and South Division High Schools -- where people can show up at their convenience.

While those will remain an option, the health department will be using more mobile clinics and offering a drive-up site in May.

"We are still seeing inequities in who is receiving the vaccine. We are working on training on a Crush COVID Crew," said Kirsten Johnson, Milwaukee health commissioner. "They will be ambassadors who can have one-on-one conversations with people who may be hesitant."

The goal is to reach the neighborhoods most underserved. The areas with the lowest vaccination rates are concentrated in the inner city.

"The barriers are not necessarily based on race, they may be on transportation, they may be child care," said Dr. Ben Weston with the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management. "We haven’t necessarily seen the wall of vaccine hesitancy. I think we’ve reached the end of extreme eagerness. But I think we have a long way to go and I think we still have a large population to go that might get the vaccine."

Still, officials aren't sounding the alarm yet. Instead, they say outreach efforts will be more important than ever.

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