Some Milwaukee neighborhoods have 20% vaccine rates; country to miss Biden’s 70% July 4th goal
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) — The country will not meet President Joe Biden’s goal of 70 percent of U.S. adults vaccinated by July Fourth. In Wisconsin and in Milwaukee, the vaccine rates are closer to 50 percent, and there are Milwaukee neighborhoods with far less than that.
Milwaukee County Data shows in the Census tract that includes Washington Park, 20.1 percent of residents have received their first dose. Some of the surrounding neighborhoods have about 30 percent vaccinated.
Neighborhood House of Milwaukee and Near West Side Partners hope to increase the vaccination rates. Neighborhood House averages about 30 people every time it holds a vaccine clinic and has vaccinated more than 200 people at its clinics.
“I don’t care if we just get one person. One person is a mark for more people because they will spread the word,” said Cynthia Jasper, health initiative manager at Neighborhood House.
Jasper said she believes it’s important to lead by example.
“In order for (other people to get the vaccine), I have to get it myself. I feel that is very important, especially for our Black community,” she said.
Jeff Martinka, executive director of Neighborhood House, said the staff’s goal is present factual information to help ease the hesitation and get more people vaccinated.
“Our area, our zip code, 53208 specifically, is one of the lowest participation rates in the vaccinations,” said Jeff Martinka, executive director of Neighborhood House. “COVID is a threat. 600,000 have died. We don’t want any more Milwaukeeans dying. This is our part to try to allay that threat.”
Data shows about 48 percent of Milwaukee residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated. About 47 percent of Wisconsin’s population is fully vaccinated. Doctors say the state has some work to do to reach the president’s goal of 70 percent.
“I think we’ll see a slow uptick in vaccinations, but whether or not that gets us to 70 percent, 75 percent, we’re just not sure,” said Dr. Jeff Pothof, chief quality officer for UW Health.
Children under 12 are not yet eligible. They make up about 14 percent of Wisconsin’s population.
Pothof explained why low vaccination rates could be deadly due to the Delta variant.
“Let’s say you have a community that’s only 20 percent vaccinated: You introduce this Delta variant, which is more contagious, causes more severe disease. That means a lot of individuals in that community are going to come in contact with Delta. They’re gonna have symptoms of Delta, and then a percentage of those people are going to get really sick, and some of them will die,” he said.
Pothof also said the historic mistrust of the vaccine for minority communities is very warranted, and there is still work to be done to help them overcome that hesitancy.
“It’s really on all of us as healthcare providers, community leaders to reach out and engage with them and explain how things aren’t how they used to be — and that really our desire is to get them vaccinated because they are the group that has been the most deeply impacted by this pandemic,” he said.