Milwaukee’s Fall COVID-19 Vaccine: Only 5% of Residents Have Received It

As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to trend upwards, Milwaukee’s health commissioner reports that only “very low” number of city residents have received the latest COVID-19 vaccine. Health Commissioner Mike Totoraitis told a Milwaukee Common Council committee that only about 5% of Milwaukee residents have been vaccinated with the updated vaccine, which became available in September. Whereas in comparison, approximately 9.2% of Milwaukee County residents and 11.1% of Wisconsinites have been vaccinated according to the latest data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Furthermore, the city of Milwaukee lags behind both the county and the rest of the state in terms of the percentage of people 65 and older who have been vaccinated with the updated vaccine. Only about 21% of city residents 65 and older have received the latest shot compared to 30% of county residents and 32% of Wisconsin residents. Health experts suggest that “pandemic fatigue” might be a contributing factor to the low vaccination rates among city residents in addition to individuals who have recently been infected with COVID-19 not seeing the need to receive the booster at this time, as voiced by Totoraitis.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue to Rise

Totoraitis also provided an update to the Public Safety and Health Committee on the city’s response to COVID-19, highlighting the increasing hospitalizations statewide, particularly in Milwaukee County, where new hospital admissions have moved from low to medium levels. Amidst this, he urged people, especially those 65 and older, to get the updated COVID-19 shot.

As the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized continues to rise, health officials have emphasized the importance of getting the updated COVID-19 vaccine, as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are expected to increase over the coming weeks, coinciding with the onset of winter and the holiday season.

Experts Urge Updated Vaccine for Elderly, Vulnerable People

Researchers have identified a new COVID-19 variant, BA.2.86, which, while carrying a lower risk of severe illness, is believed to be more transmissible and likely to become more common across the United States, and the updated vaccines are expected to boost protection against this variant. Federal and local health officials have therefore encouraged elderly and vulnerable individuals to receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine to ensure the highest level of protection against severe illness from the virus.

Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic highlighted the significance of receiving the flu and COVID vaccines annually, in hopes of establishing a vaccination routine that minimizes the risk of the virus.

Rollout of New Vaccine Hampered by Delays

The rollout of the updated COVID-19 vaccines this year faced initial delays and complications, being the first year since the pandemic’s onset that the vaccines were distributed through the commercial market, and not by the federal government. Although complications persisted, the health commissioner hopes that future vaccine campaigns will be more streamlined and efficient, allowing for the seamless distribution of COVID-19 and flu vaccines simultaneously.


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