Kandiyohi County Health and Social Services director Jennie Lippert shared the news at the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.
“We are here, we are ready, but at the moment we are still working in this 1a priority group,” said Lippert.
The first people to start the two-shot series of vaccinations were hospital workers who worked directly with COVID-19 units, then those who provided patient services or handled infectious materials. The third tier of the first priority group is healthcare workers in other sectors such as dermatologists, undertakers, dental offices, home health facilities, pharmacies and medical waste handlers. Employees and residents of group homes also belong to this third level of the first group.
“We have to end our 1a priority group before we can look at this next phase,” said Lippert.
According to Minnesota Department of Health data As of Tuesday, 1,570 people in Kandiyohi County received at least one dose of the vaccine. Healthcare workers who work in Kandiyohi County but live in another county count towards their county’s total vaccination.
Lippert said how quickly a county gets to the first priority group depends on how many people are in that group and how much vaccine the county has. How many vaccines a county receives depends on the adult population, not how many people are in a priority group.
“We in Kandiyohi County have a lot of people in this 1a priority group. We’ll need more weeks and more vaccines,” said Lippert. “There is disagreement with the districts and local public health, which is putting vaccines in priority groups.”
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended expanding the pool of eligible individuals who can receive the vaccination to include anyone over the age of 65 and anyone between the ages of 16 and 65 with underlying health conditions at the national level. Minnesota hopes to have shots soon for those 75-year-olds and older, as well as teachers and childcare workers. If the state followed the new CDC recommendations, it would put approximately 2.2 million people on the waiting list. Lippert reported that the state only receives about 60,000 doses of vaccine a week and that each person needs two shots.
“We still have a long way to go before we can reach the general public to get vaccinated,” said Lippert.
When vaccinations become available to the general public, Kandiyohi County Public Health Will be ready.
“We have employees available, we have locations, locations and plans. We have volunteers and we have community partners who we can ask for help when we are on site to conduct mass vaccinations,” said Lippert.
To date, there is no waiting list in Kandiyohi County for people who want vaccinations. When the time comes, Public Health, together with Carris Health, will notify the public for the time being.
“Just watch out for communication in our office when more vaccines are available,” Lippert said.
Centra Care / Carris Health said in a press release on Tuesday that the focus is on vaccinating health workers in Kandiyohi County.
“We rely on limited vaccine supplies and an indefinite allocation number,” said Carris Health’s press release.
Carris Health is not currently planning any vaccination for people in the Phase 1b group.
“We have plans to keep vaccinating and expand our vaccinations when more vaccines become available,” said Dr. Jill Amsberry, Pediatrician at CentraCare and part of the CentraCare COVID-19 vaccine planning team.
For related stories see Coronavirus.