MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Health Department is opening COVID-19 vaccines to everyone 16 and older at its two walk-in clinics.
Previously, the sites at North Division High School and South Division High School only administered vaccines to residents of 10 select ZIP codes.
Local health leaders said that not only are cases increasing, but the virus could be affecting children more than ever.
Milwaukee County’s latest COVID-19 case count shows an average of 117 new infections per day, nearly a 100% increase over the past three weeks.
Free, Walk-In COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at North Division High School
Dr Ben Weston of the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management said the increase is likely the result of B.1.1.7, or UK variant, going mainstream. He said the new strain is 50% more contagious and 60% more serious than the original virus.
“If you get infected with the new variant today, you may have a 60% greater chance of being hospitalized or dying from that infection,” Weston said.
The most troubling preliminary data shows that children may be easily transmitting the new strain. This week alone, an outbreak of B.1.1.7 was linked to a daycare in Dane County.
“Cases like the one in Dane County and others like it across the country are definitely raising alarms,” Weston said.
COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at the Wisconsin Center
Health officials said the outbreak will not affect local health orders.
“Many of our child care centers have been open and they all have safety plans, including in our schools,” said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson. “We are quite confident about the mitigation measures that exist, including the opening of MPS.”
Instead, they say the situation underscores the importance of getting vaccinated.
“The one thing all vaccines have in common is efficacy in hospitalization and death. And that’s 100%,” Weston said.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Receive breaking news alerts on the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android.
Doctors said they are still not sure why children may be more affected by the B.1.1.7 strain compared to the conventional strain, from which they were extensively protected.
They anticipated that more data on the subject will come out soon. The good news so far is that infections in children have been mild.