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Capitol walk kicks off Vaccine Awareness Week

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About a dozen advocates turned out for a vaccine awareness walk Tuesday evening, led by the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County (BGCDC).

Sporting t-shirts that read, “Get it, Got it, Good,” marchers made four laps around the Capitol Square — one for each of the club’s goals for a series of vaccine awareness events this week: Raise vaccine awareness, address concerns, tackle misinformation and encourage an informed decision.

“A lot of people have hesitancy about the vaccines, various concerns,” said BGCDC Chief Operating Officer Dr. Sarah Ghee. “We want to lift those up and address them. There’s a lot of myths out there, so we want to make sure we’re dealing with the facts and not misinformation.”

UW-Madison School of Pharmacy professor Olayinka Shiyanbola also joined in the walk, and said she hopes to provide factual information to help people make informed decisions.

“We are following the science,” she said. “We are following the people leading this (vaccine) research. We are not following just what someone said on Facebook or YouTube.”

Ghee stressed that the BGCDC is not necessarily advocating that anyone should get the vaccine — only seeking to raise awareness.

“Everybody has a right to their own decision,” she said. “We’re out here to be sure they have all the tools they need to make an informed decision.”

Tuesday, the state Department of Health Services announced that 50 percent of Dane County residents had been fully vaccinated, as had just over 37 percent of the population statewide.

Vaccine Awareness Week activities will continue for the rest of the week. A vaccine awareness town hall will be held on Facebook Live at 4 pm today moderated by emergency room physician Dr. Nestor Rodriguez and featuring:

  • State Department of Health Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jasmine Zapata
  • Pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Sheryl Henderson
  • UW Health vice president and Chief Diversity Officer Shiva Bidar-Sielaff
  • Public Health Madison & Dane County Public Education Coordinator Lourdes Shanjani
  • UW School of Pharmacy Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Lisa Imhoff
  • UnityPoint Health – Meriter Community Engagement Manager Corinda Rainey-Moore
  • UW School of Pharmacy Professor Dr. Olayinka Shiyanbola
  • Anesthesiologist Dr. William Hartman
  • Pastor Marcus Allen
  • Hmong Institute CEO Peng Her
  • Pastor Marcio Sierra

In a similar youth town hall Thursday, several of those same experts will answer questions live from young people.

BGCDC will host a cookout Friday, and a vaccine clinic Saturday, both at their Allied Drive club location on Madison’s south side. Ghee said the vaccine clinic will be open for walk-ups from 10 am until noon Saturday, with enough Pfizer vaccine available for whoever stops by.