Expecting return, COVID-19 vaccine doses held for MPS staff

Keeping an ace in the hole, the Milwaukee Health Department has a secret stash of COVID-19 vaccines for Milwaukee Public Schools teachers who need to be vaccinated before in-person learning starts next month.

MPS staff members are set to return to buildings on April 12, and in-person classes are slated to resume days later; now is the time for educators to roll up their sleeves and take the jab, if they haven't already.

Throughout the first two weeks in March, the City of Milwaukee set up special vaccination clinics for MPS educators at North Division High School and South Division High School. The two-dose Pfizer vaccine was administered.

The health department figured MPS may pivot back to in-person learning come April, and set aside 1,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to ensure everyone who wants to be vaccinated before school resumes can do so at those same two locations.

"Our plan is, and we are still communicating with MPS working out the details, but the plan is to have MPS communicate with their staff that Johnson & Johnson will be available for those educators at the second dose clinics," said Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson

Johnson said second doses and the Johnson & Johnson doses can all be put into arms before the April 12 return date.

"It’s encouraging for parents to know that educators who were maybe on the fence and waited -- they still have access," Johnson said.

The health department estimates more than 5,000 MPS staff members have already been vaccinated. The district has 9,600 workers, about 4,700 of which are teachers.

"The Johnson & Johnson is a single dose, and you are fully vaccinated after 14 days," said Johnson.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley receives the COVID-19 vaccine

An MPS spokesman said the district is not requiring the vaccine. A city spokesman said there is no comprehensive mechanism for tracking who has been vaccinated.

The doses for MPS should be available next week.

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