By Karen Stokes
The Milwaukee Health Department hosted a COVID-19 vaccine virtual town hall meeting Wednesday night.
The panelists included: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; Marlaina Jackson, MPA, interim commissioner of City of Milwaukee Health Department; Julia Means, a registered nurse at Ascension Health – St. Mary’s and City of MKE Board of Health members; and Dr. Heather Paradis, MD, MPH, deputy commissioner of Medical Services and chief medical officer, City of Milwaukee Health Department.
“Right now, in the City of Milwaukee since the beginning of the pandemic, we have 61,826 cases of COVID-19 and have had 573 deaths,” Jackson said. “Our goal is stopping the spread and people passing away.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention DC, herd immunity means that enough people in a community are protected from getting a disease because they’ve already had the disease or they’ve been vaccinated. Herd immunity makes it hard for the disease to spread from person to person, and it even protects those who cannot be vaccinated, like newborns.
“We need about 80% of everyone to get their shots in order to get herd immunity,” Means said.
“Who is eligible is on everybody’s mind,” Jackson said. “There’s a shortage of supply, the schedule fills up quickly. The schedule is regularly updated.”
Individuals in Phases 1A and 1B are currently eligible.
• Phase 1A includes frontline health care workers, personal health care workers, physical nursing home staff and residents
• Phase 1B includes people 65 and older and emergency responders
Eligible Milwaukee County residents are to use the HealthyMKE.com website to register to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Most people have anxiety about getting vaccinated. This testimonial from Phavana (Nina) Sysamouth, a public health nurse, highlights her vaccination journey.
“I had the first dose on Jan 7. A vaccine fact sheet was emailed after the appointment confirmation. When I arrived to the public building someone greeted me, screened me and took my temperature. There were stickers on the floor to maintain a six-foot distance from the people in front and behind me. I sat down with the nurse to go over any questions and concerns. She was able to answer any questions I had and prior to receiving the vaccination, the nurse went over the side effects, post care and was highly informative on what to do in case of an emergency. She provided me a handout with information and a number to call with any questions. After the vaccine, I sat for 15 minutes for observation in the presence of first responders and health care professionals. After I received the injection, my arm was sore, I had a bad headache and muscle aches. The ache felt like how you feel after a workout the next day when you haven’t been at the gym for a while. I took Tylenol that night, the next day too. The Tylenol helped with the pain, by day two, it was gone. I scheduled my second dose 22 days later. When I arrived for the second dose, they did everything the same as before. After the second dose, my arm was sore but not as bad as the first time. I started getting headaches and body aches an hour later. It was manageable, I took Tylenol, I woke up the next day with a headache but I was able to shovel snow.”
Paradis suggested waiting to take Tylenol until after you’re vaccinated rather than before.
“This virus is very dangerous and it doesn’t care who you are or how healthy you are or what immunity you have,” Means said. “It hit people who had strong immunities and has taken them out. When it’s your turn, get your shots. I’ve gotten mine and have given hundreds of shots, vaccinating people since December. I know a lot of people have anxiety. We need to conquer our fears and get protected.”
“Get your faith and facts together and come and get this shot,” Means continued.
“My message to people is stay informed,” Barrett said. “The goal is to move past the pandemic.”
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, go to Milwaukee.gov or call the helpline at 844-684-1064. If you do not have an email address, do not have internet access or need assistance with scheduling an appointment, please call the COVID-19 Hotline at (414) 286-6800.