Milwaukee County and City of Milwaukee Increase Access for Individuals Living in the 10 Most Vulnerable ZIP Codes
Among select few counties in the nation to use Social Vulnerability Index to increase vaccine equity
Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee announced Milwaukee County residents living in the 10 county ZIP codes ranking highest on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index will be the focus of targeted COVID-19 vaccine outreach starting Monday, March 22. Adults who live in the 53204, 53205, 53206, 53209, 53215, 53216, 53218, 53223, 53224 or 53233 county ZIP codes will be contacted by this coordinated effort to get vaccinated. The announcement comes as the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced that individuals with certain conditions associated with an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 will be eligible for the vaccine beginning next Monday.
“With additional vaccine and spots available we are happy to be able to open eligibility for Wisconsinites with medical conditions sooner,” said DHS Interim Secretary Karen Timberlake. “We appreciate the City and County working together on this innovative effort to increase vaccine access especially in neighborhoods where we know too many people experience the pressures of poverty, systemic racism, and toxic stress, creating greater risk for chronic illness.”
The Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management created the Evaluating Vulnerability and Equity (EVE) Model to evaluate and guide equitable vaccine deployment strategies across the county. During a public health emergency, socially vulnerable populations are especially at risk because of factors like socioeconomic status, household composition, minority status, housing type and transportation.
The EVE Model proposes viewing community vaccination rates alongside the CDC Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) to inform equitable allocation of this essential resource. Regularly mapping these results allows for targeted messaging and resource allocation in a dynamic, needs-focused manner. This information is divided into four categories: high vaccination, low vulnerability; high vaccination, high vulnerability; low vaccination, low vulnerability; and low vaccination, high vulnerability. This information and a more detailed explanation can be found on the Milwaukee County COVID-19 dashboard.
“We appreciate the State taking the necessary steps to increase vaccine access in Milwaukee County. This gets more shots in arms and minimizes barriers to receiving the vaccine in our most at-risk communities,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee declared racism a public health crisis and we’re acting on our commitment to address racial disparities through ZIP code data, informing our approach and creating more equitable outcomes for our underrepresented communities.”
The Milwaukee Health Department is expanding its vaccination efforts in the ten zip codes. This includes operating two community vaccination clinics at North Division High School, 1011 W. Center St. and South Division High School, 1515 W. Lapham Blvd. These sites will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from March 22 to April 19. With FEMA support at the Wisconsin Center, the Milwaukee Health Department is also setting up additional sites in collaboration with community partners. This expansion of eligibility is the latest effort by Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee to ensure equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This step is important for communities that have been hit hardest by COVID-19. Increased eligibility will increase the numbers of people vaccinated in the most vulnerable neighborhoods. As family members and neighbors are vaccinated, others who have been cautious about vaccination will have more information and understanding,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “And, I hope this will lead to higher acceptance of the vaccine.”
“We know the chronic stress brought on by structural racism impacts an individual’s overall health and our communities of color have experienced this prior to as well as throughout the pandemic,” said Dr. Benjamin Weston, Medical Director for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management. “This information helps us target our messaging and resource allocation to a needs-focused approach in our most vulnerable populations.”
Eligible Milwaukee County and City of Milwaukee residents in these ZIP codes can make an appointment starting Monday, March 22 on the city’s vaccine website at Milwaukee.gov/covidvax, by calling 414-286-6800, or by visiting covidmke.com to make an appointment at the Milwaukee County Kosciuszko Community Center.