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Health officials bet on mobile vaccination clinics to finish the job as mass vaccination clinics end

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Two of the biggest coronavirus vaccination sites in southern Wisconsin are coming to an end soon, entering our area into a new phase in the fight against COVID-19.

Public Health Madison Dane County will give the last shots at the Alliant Energy Center this Saturday. Blackhawk Technical College in Rock County will start reducing its hours this week and plans to wrap up entirely by July 17.

This is all happening as vaccination rates are slowing dramatically.

Public Health officials are hoping the solution is to go out into the communities.

"In the salon, you talk about everything," said Jason Mallett.

He owns Jason Glenn Salon on Madison's east side.

Mallett says a common topic of conversation in the salon recently has been the coronavirus vaccine.

"I was very hesitant at first," he said. "It's just that stigma, that history, you know. That trust that you don't have with the government."

But Mallett did his own research -- and changed his mind in a big way, going from skeptical of the vaccines to hosting a vaccination clinic Monday at Jason Glenn Salon.

"I don't want to put other people at risk just because I'm scared of getting a vaccination," Mallett said. "Don't only think about yourself. Think about your grandparents. Think about the people that you're going to possible put at risk."

The clinic featured a DJ, free food and more to encourage people in the community to come out -- in part, sponsored by Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin.

But even with all the freebies, the biggest piece of encouragement was Mallett getting vaccinated, himself.

"When one of the people that was hesitant about getting it ends up getting it done, it does make other people pause and think, and consider taking it themselves," Mallett said.

Vaccinators say the clinic was a success.

"I think we're almost at 40 today," said Charles Link, PHMDC's mobile vaccination lead who was present all day at Mallett's clinic. "That's great for a mobile clinic."

With mass vaccination clinics like the Alliant Energy Center wrapping up, public health officials are betting on these mobile vaccination clinics to reach those people still unvaccinated, and more importantly listen to those communities.

"Being present and listening, in partnership with people who these communities know and trust, is just really important," said PHMDC COVID-19 Deputy Tess Ellens.

Ellens said vaccinations at the Alliant Energy Center dropped from around 1,800 to 200 per day over the last month.

It's why the center is closing -- and why the pressure is on to get out into communities.

"It might not be 1,800 vaccines a day, but every conversation we have with somebody out in the community is a success for us," she said.

Mallett wanted his clinic to help people on Madison's east side, including a large homeless population.

It did that, and then some -- a blueprint for the next phase of the coronavirus fight -- earning trust in shots.

"I didn't feel a thing," Mallett said.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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