Mayor Tom Barrett says this is the Milwaukee Health Department’s 20th annual Back-to-School Fair. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)

The new school year is nearly here and with it comes the annual back-to-school fairs that take place throughout Milwaukee.

Mayor Tom Barrett announced the Milwaukee Health Department’s annual Back-to-School Health Fairs during a press conference in Reiske Park, 1639 S. 23rd St., on Wednesday, July 28. Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson, Ald. JoCasta Zamarripa and Keith Posley, the Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent, were also in attendance.

The first fair will be held at Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education, 5075 N. Sherman Blvd., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, July 30. A second fair will be held at Southside Health Center, 1639 S. 23rd St., from 10 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6.

Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson is urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they haven’t done so already. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)

“This Back-to-School Health Fair has been something that has really been a hallmark of our City of Milwaukee Department now for two decades,” Barrett said. “This is our 20th annual Back-to-School Health Fair.”

The health fairs provide opportunities for children to receive immunizations, school supplies and more.

In past years, there are hundreds of people waiting to get in, Barrett noted.

“This is an opportunity for parents and guardians to make sure that their kids are going to be ready,” Barrett said, “so, when they do go back to school, they’ll be able to do so in a safe fashion.”

“It is our responsibility to make sure we are doing all we can to protect our community,” Ald. JoCasta Zamarripa says. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)

With cases of COVID-19 on the rise, Barrett is encouraging eligible people to get vaccinated.

“This year, the Back-to-School Health Fairs are focused on public health services to ensure that students can safely return to in-person learning in the fall,” Johnson said. “After navigating between virtual and hybrid classes last year, we know everyone is eager to get back in the classroom, but we need to focus on doing so safely.”

All childhood immunizations will be available, Johnson said, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Eligible children, those who are 12 and older, and their parents and guardians can receive the vaccine. The Milwaukee County Zoo will also be giving free passes to those who receive their vaccination or prove they have been vaccinated, Johnson said.

Keith Posley, Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent, gives his thanks to the mayor and health department for their continued support these past 17 months. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)

“I cannot stress the importance of immunizations enough but this year especially we need to make sure our kids are protected” Johnson said. “The most effective way to combat COVID-19 and the Delta variant is through vaccination.”

Attendees can also receive Health Home Lead Kits and water filters; they can access health insurance enrollment; and learn about additional programs such as WIC, the city’s doula program and more.

“It is our responsibility to make sure we are doing all we can to protect our community, to provide resources for our community and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” Zamarripa said.