UWM clinic provides much-needed access to vaccine for hard-hit communities

Gov. Tony Evers and UW System President Tommy Thompson visited a community vaccination clinic at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Monday, saying the clinic provides much-needed access to vaccine for communities hardest hit by COVID-19.

“UWM is always doing the right things for Milwaukee and especially those who are disproportionately impacted by poverty, race and other social issues,” Evers said. “As a citizen, I’ve always admired UWM’s dual purposes. It’s a great research university and it also makes sure that the social implications of an urban area are dealt with both from the research angle, but also from the implementation of programs angle. All UW campuses are the hubs of their communities, and this one has great science and health priorities, so it just makes sense for this event to happen here.”

Gov. Tony Evers bumps elbows with a man getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at UWM’s clinic on Monday. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

Evers added that he was proud that Wisconsin continues to lead the country in using available vaccine doses. Of the 2.6 million doses that have been supplied to the state, 2.4 million have been given.

The clinic at UW-Milwaukee is operated through a partnership with Advocate Aurora Health and the City of Milwaukee Health Department. It is one of four on UW System campuses. The others are at UW-Green Bay, UW-Oshkosh and UW-La Crosse.

“The Wisconsin Idea is about our universities stepping up and solving problems,” said Thompson. “What we’re doing is educating Wisconsin about the need for vaccination and saying that the UW is opening up our campuses for that purpose.”

Over 1 million tests

It’s not the only time during the pandemic that the UW System has played a pivotal role in managing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Thompson said. Through its surge testing sites, the UW System has administered more than one million COVID-19 tests.

Anyone who meets Wisconsin’s vaccination criteria can make an appointment at the UWM clinic by visiting uwm.edu/vaccination. Currently eligible groups include those age 65 and older, restaurant and grocery workers, people with certain medical conditions, K-12 educators and more. In addition, all adults living in the 10 Milwaukee County ZIP codes ranked highest on the CDC’s social vulnerability index can get vaccinated at the clinic. Those ZIP codes are: 53204, 53206, 53205, 53209, 53215, 53216, 53218, 53223, 53224 and 53233.

UWM Provost Johannes Britz thanked Thompson for his strong leadership in “a situation where there was no playbook available.”

“We train future professionals, but our graduates also are at the frontline in fighting and addressing this crisis,” Britz said. “We have a longstanding history in our city of providing public health care services to our community. We are truly a campus for the community.”

During his visit to UWM, Gov. Tony Evers signs a bill that authorizes dentists to administer COVID-19 vaccines. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

UWM has one of the largest arrays of health care programs in Wisconsin, with more than 3,300 students enrolled in its College of Nursing, College of Health Sciences and the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health. Faculty members and students working at the Silver Spring and House of Peace Community Nursing Centers have provided health care to underserved populations for more than 40 years.

Hundreds of community members have made appointments in the past week to get vaccinated at UWM. On Monday, 445 doses were given, with similar numbers planned for distribution each day for the rest of the week.

‘It’s the way out of this pandemic’

Dr. Nkem Iroegbu, chief medical officer at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, said Advocate Aurora Health was proud to partner with UWM and the Milwaukee Health Department in reaching those communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

“As a physician, I’m confident in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and encourage everyone to get vaccinated when it’s their turn,” Iroegbu said. “Ultimately, our goal is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible because we know it’s the way out of this pandemic and the way to keep people healthy.”

People who complete the vaccination interest form at uwm.edu/vaccination will receive an email with a personalized code that allows them to make an appointment through Advocate Aurora Health. Once they receive their first shot, they will be automatically scheduled for their second shot. Vaccination is by appointment only; the clinic will not accept walk-ins.

The clinic is located in the UWM Student Union at 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd. Free parking for those getting vaccinated is available in the garage under the Student Union.

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