MILWAUKEE - Vaccine eligibility opened Monday, March 22 for residents of 10 select Milwaukee County ZIP codes. Local leaders say the goal is to increase access to people living in some of the most vulnerable and underserved communities.
Walk-in clinics opened Monday morning at North and South Division High School, where people from those select ZIP codes along with anyone else who lives in the county and is eligible can show up and get in line to receive a shot -- no appointment or proof of eligibility necessary.
The goal is to increase access and simplify the process of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Milwaukee County residents lined up and rolled up their sleeves at North Division High School for the kick-off of the county's COVID-19 vaccine zip code program.
"Every hour, I was able to get up at 5:00, come out here, 6:00, come out here and observe and then go back home," said Erskin Henderson. "Then at 8:00, I just stayed out here."
Henderson and his wife, Kitty, were the first of nearly 100 to arrive at the walk-in clinic before doors opened at 10 a.m.
"Look behind me now. This is what I’m talking about. This is what I love to see," said Henderson of the line of people waiting for the vaccine.
Up to 600 shots will be administered per day for all adults, regardless of age, profession or health, who live in these 10 ZIP codes. The areas chosen rank highest on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Social Vulnerability Index.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said they also include neighborhoods with some of the lowest vaccination rates.
"We are doing this in the spirit of equity," said Crowley. "We have seen the disparities growing in who is getting the vaccination and who is not."
Thanks to the initiative, 60-year-old Lodia Ricks not only became eligible for the vaccine as a 53206 resident, but the clinic is in his own backyard, minimizing transportation barriers for many like him with disabilities.
"I live right there on 20th and when my buddy told me about it this morning, I got up," said RIcks. "I had to come out here and get it."
In partnership with the Milwaukee Health Department, the county is also offering shots on a walk-in basis at South Division High School, while people can still schedule appointments at Kosciuszko Community Center.