Milwaukee's new health commissioner focused on COVID vaccinations

The Milwaukee health commissioner was a special guest for the Milwaukee Press Club's virtual webinar. 

Kirsten Johnson stepped into the role amidst a pandemic. 

She's a fresh set of eyes and ears for the Milwaukee Health Department.

"My vision for our department really is to be the chief health strategist and to foster a culture of health," she said.

Kirsten Johnson

Kirsten Johnson

Kirsten Johnson has been in the role of Milwaukee Health Commissioner for seven weeks. 

"It’s really hard to come into a role as a public health leader in the middle of the pandemic because I’m very much a systems thinker, but my entire focus right now is the pandemic and getting us out of it," she said.

Johnson says while it's been challenging for everyone to stay motivated during the last several months. She's staying hopeful.

So far, Milwaukee County has administered roughly 96,000 covid-19 vaccines. That's the focus now. 

"We are really putting an effort on our mobile vaccination sites and community sites – so I think bringing the vaccine to where people are is really how we’re going to reach that next group of people that want to get vaccinated," she said.

Johnson plans to be in Milwaukee long-term and as her focus remains on the pandemic. There's still much to be done within the city that she plans to address. 

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"I think we’re all on the same page recognizing this is an opportunity to collaborate address some of the significant challenges the city has seen in previous decades and also with our partners thinking again --what has been highlighted through the pandemic," Johnson said.

Before coming to Milwaukee, Johnson was director and health officer of the Washington-Ozaukee Public Health Department with a background in public health administration. 

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