The Wisconsin Center Will Be Milwaukee’s Vaccination Site

Milwaukee leaders want to be able to accommodate large numbers.

The Wisconsin Center is expected to open on Tuesday as a vaccination site for front-line workers employed by the city of Milwaukee.

“The purpose of using the Wisconsin Center is that we are going to see dramatic increases in the number of dosages that we will receive,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Friday afternoon.

Barrett said that the state is being aggressive in getting additional dosages of vaccinations from the federal government. President-elect Joe Biden also has made it clear that he wants the vaccination process to move quickly, he added.

“We want to be able to accommodate larger numbers,” Barrett said.

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Public health nurses who will administer the vaccinations will be trained at the Wisconsin Center on Monday. Beginning Tuesday, those in the so-called 1A group, which includes Milwaukee Health Department employees, firefighters and staff at the city’s COVID-19 testing sites at American Family Field and on the Northwest and South sides, will begin receiving the vaccination.

As of Friday, 120 city employees already have received initial vaccination dosages at a site at the Health Department through an initial allotment of the Pfizer vaccine. The city is expecting to receive another 800 doses beginning Monday and throughout the coming week.

A freezer that can appropriately store the Pfizer vaccine at the required ultra-cold temperature has been delivered to the Wisconsin Center and is being storied in a locked area with extremely limited access and a monitoring system, Barrett said.

Securing the vaccines is a major priority, especially in the light of the recent case involving a pharmacist at Advocate Aurora Health Care facility in Grafton who allegedly tried to spoil hundreds of doses of the coronavirus, Barrett said.

The city is also working with local law enforcement to ensure that the site remains secure.

Vaccinations to all city employees in the top-priority group should be administered by the end of January. Then, those in the 1A group that aren’t city employees will begin receiving the vaccine.

City employees aren’t required to be vaccinated but it’s being “highly encouraged,” interim Health Commissioner Marlaina Jackson said.

Next in line to receive the vaccine are essential workers, teachers and police officers, among others.

As the number of people targeted for vaccination grows, the Wisconsin Center site is likely to operate six days per week with potentially expanded hours.

“We will adjust as our staffing allows,” Jackson said.

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.