By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Many people know at least one person who got sick from the COVID-19 virus. Most know more than one. County Supervisor Priscilla Coggs-Jones (District 10) got the virus along with the rest of her family; while each of them experienced different symptoms, it is a shared experience none of them want to repeat.
Coggs-Jones spoke about the COVID-19 vaccine during her campaign for county supervisor, and earlier this week, she followed through on her word to get the vaccine.
Coggs-Jones received her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, June 23. Her appointment took place during a COVID-19 vaccine clinic hosted by Community Huddle, 2745 N. Martin Luther King Dr., in partnership with Walgreens and the City of Milwaukee Health Department. The clinic offered all three vaccines: Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
Minister Byron Marshall is executive director and founder of Community Huddle, a local nonprofit organization.
“Part of our mission is to promote equity,” Marshall said. “And so, we felt that health equity and ensuring our community has access to the vaccine was a priority of ours.”
Vaccine distribution in Wisconsin has slowed down in recent weeks. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, vaccine distribution reached its high in April, and since then the daily average had slowly fallen. As of Tuesday, June 22, data from the Wisconsin of Health Services shows that nearly 50% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In Milwaukee County, 47.8% of eligible individuals have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 42.5% have received both doses.
Groups such as Community Huddle are hoping that by making the vaccine more accessible individuals will feel more inclined to get it.
Coggs-Jones noted that at the beginning, vaccine distribution was not always equitable. As time went on, there was a surge of vaccine sites within walking distance for people living in the inner city, she said.
“To continue to see that and have it, is important,” she said. “We want to make sure that it is in areas and locations that are in walking distance for our elderly community and for our community who don’t have transportation.”
Coggs-Jones added that while vaccine availability has increased, there needs to be continued outreach and education efforts regarding the vaccine and the COVID-19 variants. As a public figure who is out in the community, Coggs-Jones acknowledged that she has an increased chance of catching one of the COVID-19 variants.
“For me that’s scary,” she said. “I’m out in the public all the time; I come home to my son every night and I would hate to have him or any other of my family members that I come in contact with, for me to be a carrier and not have taken those precautions that I could have to prevent that.”
The vaccine is way to protect herself as much as it is to protect the community, she said.
There have been lot of misinformation and misperceptions about the vaccine, Marshall said. One of the reasons the group partnered with Walgreens and the health department is to help debunk the myths and give people the accurate information they need to make the best decision.
He continued that people should consult with their physician and doctor before receiving the vaccine. At the end of the day, people aren’t receiving the vaccine for themselves but for their community, the elderly, people with underlying health conditions, those who can’t receive the vaccine and so on, he said.
Marshall said this is hopefully the first of many COVID-19 vaccine drives that Community Huddle will host. The organization plans to continue partnering with Walgreens to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine.
“I’m hoping that we can see a nice turnout so that people can get the information they need,” he said. “And if nothing else they can walk away with a different outlook on the COVID-19 vaccine overall.”