A Community of Immunity.
This COVID-19 Q&A video is the first in a series focused on providing Olmsted County residents with answers to questions and concerns regarding COVID-19. The next video will focus on youth and their experience with COVID-19 vaccines and masking. Details about this upcoming forum will be shared in the coming weeks.
Olmsted County residents had the opportunity to ask COVID-19 questions and get them answered by OCPHS Director Graham Briggs, OCPHS COVID-19 Operations Section Chief Leah Espinda-Brandt, Olmsted Medical Center’s Dr. Randy Hemann, and Mayo Clinic infectious disease expert Dr. Elie Berbari.
Update as of 09/14/2021
Update as of 09/09/2021
Update as of 08/11/2021
Update as of 08/02/2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) have recently issued a new classification system for when face coverings are recommended indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Olmsted County has now reached the threshold for when these recommendations go into effect. Olmsted County therefore recommends that everyone wear a face covering even if they are vaccinated in the following situations:
- In public, indoor settings in areas with substantial or high community transmission (which includes Olmsted County currently.)
- Where there is a high risk of COVID-19 spread or complications from COVID-19 infection, such as schools, health care settings, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities.
- If you are immunocompromised or at an increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19.
- If you live or frequently interact with someone who is immunocompromised, not fully vaccinated, or at an increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19.
The vaccine is still highly effective against COVID-19 and dramatically reduces hospitalizations and death. However, the Delta variant spreads very easily, and in rare cases, vaccinated people can transmit the virus even if they do not have symptoms.
Olmsted County’s current classification is as a county with substantial community transmission for COVID-19. This means our county has had either 50 total new cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days or an 8% positive test rate over the past seven days.
Vaccines that protect against COVID-19 are widely available through medical providers and pharmacies. Individuals 12 and older can find vaccine availability at https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine/locations/index.jsp.
Other ways to reduce the spread of the virus include staying home when sick and getting tested when presenting symptoms or coming into exposure.
View these links for the latest COVID-19 data.
- Overview of Cases / COVID-19 Updates and Information - State of Minnesota (mn.gov)
- CDC COVID Data Tracker
- COVID-19 Vaccine Data / COVID-19 Updates and Information - State of Minnesota (mn.gov)
For more information related to local and statewide COVID-19 data, please visit the following Minnesota Department of Health websites:
Local resources include:
Are you experiencing a mental health crisis or emergency? Contact 1-844-CRISIS2 or text HOME to 741741.
- Mental Health Resource List: Southeastern, MN
- Crisis Response for Southeast MN
- NAMI SE MN Resources
- Minnesota Department of Health: Supporting Mental Well-being During COVID-19
Additional COVID information and resources
- State of Minnesota - COVID Response
- Stay Safe MN
- State of Minnesota - COVID Vaccinations
- MN Department of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Know Your Travel Risk
- MDH low-cost health care or get health insurance
Olmsted County Social Media
- Olmsted County Public Health Facebook page
- Olmsted County YouTube Channel
- Olmsted County Facebook page
- Olmsted County Twitter
- Olmsted County Instagram
COVID-19 testing options for Olmsted County residents
Residents can call various places to make an appointment to get tested for COVID-19. Below is a list of options for Olmsted County residents.
Mayo Clinic patients
- Mayo Clinic patients: Call the COVID-19 Nurse Line at 507-293-9525.
Olmsted Medical Center patients
- Olmsted Medical Center patients: Call the COVID-19 Nurse Line at 507-292-7266. Testing hours are Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Community Health Services (aka Migrant Health)
- 1926 Collegeview Rd SE, Rochester, MN 55904
- Appointments are required – call 507-529-0503 to schedule a time
Hy-Vee – Locations in Olmsted County
- 500 Crossroads Drive SW, Rochester, MN 55902
- 4221 West Circle Dr. NW, Rochester, MN 55901
- 220 Center Town Plz N, Stewartville, MN 55976
- Appointments are required.
- Register online: www.hy-vee.com/my-pharmacy/services/covid-19-testing
Walgreens - Two locations in Olmsted County
- 80 14th St SW, Rochester, MN 55902
- 1112 Civic Center Dr NW, Rochester, MN 55901
- Appointments are required - call 507-206-5132 to schedule a time
- Register online: www.walgreens.com/findcare/covid19/testing
- 5507 Chateau Rd W, Rochester, MN 55901
- No appointment necessary.
Online Order MDH-Vault
- The test kit is shipped directly to your home via expedited shipping. Follow instructions closely: www.learn.vaulthealth.com/state-of-minnesota.
If you do not have a primary care provider but need testing, call either of the COVID-19 triage lines provided above. If you do not have insurance and are unable to cover the test cost, please inquire about billing options when you call.
COVID-19 test results
Test results are typically available within 48 hours; however, it could be longer depending on the volume of tests coming through. You will be contacted by a care provider. Olmsted County Public Health Services (OCPHS) will receive the name and contact information of individuals in Olmsted County who have tested positive to complete follow-up efforts. If you have interacted recently with family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues, you should alert them to let them know they should quarantine for 14 days. When OCPHS calls, please answer and talk to our staff about your recent contacts, share your questions, and receive answers. It is important that people follow the guidance provided by OCPHS and their care provider for the health and safety of the community.
There are many opportunities to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines are available at no cost; however, some clinics and pharmacies may charge an administration fee.
Olmsted County COVID-19 vaccine locations
Mayo Clinic: Children 13 and over can schedule an appointment through Patient Online Services. For 12-year-old children, a parent or guardian can schedule through their Patient Online Services caregiver account. Appointments can also be scheduled by calling 507-538-4040. If you or your child does not have a Patient Online Services Account, call Mayo Clinic Customer Assistance at 877-858-0398 to create one.
Olmsted Medical Center (OMC): Do you or a family member need to get the COVID vaccine? OMC is scheduling COVID vaccines at the Rochester Southeast Clinic. Appointments for patients 12 years of age and older will be held on Thursdays, on an ongoing basis. Patients must call 507.292.7300 to schedule their vaccine. There are no walk-in appointments.
Community Health Services: Call the clinic for more information.
Rochester Clinic: Call the clinic for more information.
Olmsted County Public Health Services is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone who is eligible. Please call 507-328-7500 to schedule an appointment.
Local pharmacies and the State of Minnesota: Individuals can now sign up with the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector. The connector will help you find out when, where, and how to get your vaccine.
How to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccination
- Eat a good meal or snack and drink plenty of water ahead of the vaccination.
- For youth receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, find tips from Mayo Clinic for answering common questions you or your child may have about vaccines from Mayo Clinic.
- Review additional information about COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that has been approved for youth ages 12-15 on the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 webpage.
What vaccines are available?
COVID-19 vaccines are authorized and then recommended for use in the United States. It is important to understand what is known about each vaccine. The CDC provides vaccine information on who is and is not recommended to receive each vaccine and what to expect after vaccination, as well as ingredients, safety, and effectiveness.
Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19:
- Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is for ages 12 and older. Two doses are needed, 21 days apart.
- Moderna vaccine is for ages eighteen and older. Two doses are needed, 28 days apart.
- Johnson & Johnson/Janssen is for ages 18 and older. One dose is needed.
Why do we need a vaccine?
Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your community. A COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from getting sick and potentially prevent you from spreading the virus to others. It is important to note that a vaccine will not replace the need to continue other actions that stop the spread of COVID-19. This is especially true while we are still in the process of administering the vaccine, and this may take many months. The vaccine is not mandatory, yet highly encouraged by healthcare experts.
Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick with COVID-19.
Can I travel safely if I've been vaccinated?
The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated because travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. However, fully vaccinated individuals can travel safely within the United States. Find more information about travel guidelines from the CDC.
After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?
No. Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response—the goal of vaccination—there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.
How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?
The federal government covers the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine; it will be provided to people at no cost. Providers will be able to charge an administration fee. This can be reimbursed through the patient’s insurance or the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. So, people getting the vaccine may be asked for insurance information.
Aren't masking, physical distancing, and self-quarantining reasonable alternatives to COVID-19 vaccination?
Given the extent of COVID-19 spread in the U.S., masking, physical distancing, and self-quarantining alone will not be enough to contain the pandemic. Developing large-scale immunity in the community through vaccination is key to stopping the pandemic.
Everyone will need to continue to take precautions, such as masking and physical distancing until the spread has stopped. Until then, COVID-19 spread can continue in the community from people who have or don't have symptoms.
A person can be contagious for as many as 14 days without symptoms. A person can develop symptoms but be contagious before symptoms start. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others, beginning two days before symptoms develop and up to 10 days after becoming sick.
What if I get a vaccine in another part of the state/another state, can I schedule my second one in Rochester?
Please call our COVID community call line at 507-328-2822. Staff will take your information and when vaccine is available, you will be contacted using the information provided. We cannot guarantee a second dose, yet we will work with our partners and do our best.
Who can get vaccinated and when?
Those 12 and older can contact their providers or a local pharmacy to receive their COVID vaccines.
Where can I find listings of vaccine providers?
The State of Minnesota has a new vaccine finder map to help residents search for local providers.
The map now gives all seniors across the state the opportunity to find vaccine opportunities in their area. Minnesotans can use the map to find vaccine providers near them and contact those healthcare providers with questions. However, providers on this list, may or may not have vaccine available consistently.
What if I don’t have a medical provider?
Individuals 65+ who are uninsured Olmsted County residents, regional agricultural workers with or without insurance as well those who are established patients of Community Health Services or Good Samaritan Clinic can contact CHSI directly.
Where can I find the latest information regarding vaccine distribution?
The Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine dashboard has a wealth of information, including the number of vaccines distributed to providers and the total number of vaccines given.
Safety and effectiveness
Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?
From the CDC website: COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. There are currently two types of COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized and recommended for use in the United States: Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and a viral vector vaccine. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the genetic material in the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. All COVID-19 vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease.
- Learn more about how mRNA COVID-19 vaccines work.
- Learn more about how viral vector vaccines work.
Is the vaccine safe and effective?
Vaccine approval is driven by science. The FDA, CDC, and independent advisors all review vaccine safety and effectiveness data before any vaccine is approved or allowed for distribution. COVID-19 vaccines go through all of the usual steps and phases that all vaccines go through to get full approval. Early-phase studies of the vaccines show that they are safe.
There are many COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development, yet currently, only three have received emergency use authorization from the FDA – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J). To receive emergency use authorization, the biopharmaceutical manufacturer must have followed at least half of the study participants for at least two months after completing the vaccination series, and the vaccine must be proven safe and effective in that population. In addition to the safety review by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has convened a panel of vaccine safety experts to independently evaluate the safety data from the clinical trial. Mayo Clinic vaccine experts also will review available data. The safety of the COVID-19 vaccine is being closely monitored by the CDC.
You can visit the CDC's website for more information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?
Yes. People who want to get pregnant in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Based on current knowledge, experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to a person trying to become pregnant in the short or long term. Scientists study every vaccine carefully for side effects immediately and for years afterward. The COVID-19 vaccines are being studied carefully now and will continue to be studied for many years, similar to other vaccines.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?
- The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is for ages 12 and above
- The Moderna vaccine is for ages 18 and above.
Clinical trials are ongoing to identify a safe vaccine for children under the age of 12.
Until children under 12 are approved to be vaccinated for COVID-19, should eligible adults who live with children under 12 be vaccinated for COVID-19?
Yes. It is very helpful for anyone who becomes eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to be vaccinated. The reason for that is that we are trying to achieve herd immunity to try to slow down and stop the pandemic. This refers to when you have enough of a population that is immune to an infection that the infection cannot easily jump from one person to the other. Herd immunity slows down transmission, so even if children are not yet eligible for vaccination, if the adults around them are vaccinated, that provides them with some protection. In that case, they are less likely to be exposed to COVID-19. Until children under 12 are approved to be vaccinated for COVID-19, we certainly encourage any adults who are eligible and live with children under 12 to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
How many shots of the COVID-19 vaccine will be needed?
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses roughly 2-3 weeks apart. You will schedule an appointment to receive your second dose when you schedule your first. Johnson & Johnson/Janssen requires only one shot.
Is one dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine effective?
One dose of vaccine has not been fully tested. Two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine provide over 90% protection. When the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to you, and after you receive your first dose, you should schedule the second dose appointment before leaving your doctor’s office. The FDA dismissed the idea of using half doses or making changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
About 15% of people develop symptoms, primarily headache, chills, fatigue, or muscle pain, or fever. These transient reactions, which indicate a person's immune system is responding to the vaccine, resolved without complication or injury.
How long will a COVID-19 vaccination offer protection?
It is not yet known how long COVID-19 vaccination will offer protection. Periodic boosters, such as with the annual flu shot, may or may not be needed.
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I got the flu vaccine?
What to expect after vaccination
Can you spread COVID to others after vaccination?
From the CDC website: Although COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting sick, scientists are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not have symptoms. Early data show the vaccines do help keep people with no symptoms from spreading COVID-19. Yet, this disease is new and scientists continue to learn more as more people get vaccinated and how long the vaccines protect people.
What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?
We know that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick and evidence now shows that people who have been fully vaccinated can return to do some of the things that they stopped doing last year because of the pandemic.
People are considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines; or,
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
Can those who have had COVID-19 get vaccinated for COVID-19?
Yes. We recommend getting vaccinated for COVID-19, even for those who have had COVID-19 previously. People should wait until they are no longer infectious to get vaccinated.
What to do if you're exposed to COVID-19
You have been exposed to COVID-19 if:
- You were closer than six feet for more than 15 minutes of someone who tests positive for COVID, starting from 2 days before they felt sick until now.
- You were closer than six feet for more than 15 minutes of someone who tests positive for COVID, starting from 2 days before they tested positive if they don’t feel sick until now.
- Someone in your household has COVID, even if they don’t feel sick.
- You can still have COVID-19 if you do not have symptoms.
- You can still infect others with COVID-19 if you do not have symptoms.
Keep in mind
We continue to reach out to all COVID-19 cases and their contacts, yet at times we may need to focus on contacting those that are at greatest risk. We need your help to keep our community safe.
If this is a medical emergency call 911.
1. Stay home
Beginning with the last day you were exposed, stay home for 14 days. Do not go to work, school, or childcare. Avoid ALL public places for 14 days.
To request a letter of excuse for school, work, childcare or sports activity use the online form.
2. Self Monitor
- shortness of breath
- any new symptoms
3. Get tested
- If you show symptoms, get tested immediately.
- If you do not show symptoms, get tested five days or more after exposure.
If your test is negative
And you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19:
If you had close contact with a person with COVID-19 (an exposure), you need to stay home and away from others (quarantine).
- COVID-19 can take up to 14 days to make you sick, and some people with COVID-19 never feel sick, so you need to separate yourself from others so you don’t spread the virus without knowing it.
- The safest option is to stay home and away from others for 14 days. In certain situations, you may end your quarantine after 10 days, or after seven days with a negative COVID-19 PCR test result (not antibody/blood or antigen). You cannot end your quarantine before seven days for any reason.
And you have symptoms:
Talk to your doctor and follow their advice. If there is not another diagnosis, you should still stay away from work, school, and other public places until you’re feeling better and have no fever. Symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to other illnesses, like flu, and the risk of spreading these illnesses to others in your community can be high.
And you do not have symptoms:
Continue to protect yourself by using social distancing and frequent hand-washing, and by wearing a mask when you’re out in public. Get tested again if you develop symptoms or have contact with someone with COVID-19.
What to do if you test positive
*IMPORTANT NOTE: Olmsted County Public Health continues to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and their contacts. Individuals may receive a text, phone call, and/or email from us. Please answer when we call or call us back at the number provided. In the meantime, you can help prevent further spread of COVID-19 and keep others safe and healthy.
Cases are asked to personally notify anyone they have had close contact with about their positive test result and direct their contacts to quarantine and follow the recommendations. This notification should be shared with any person you had contact with while they had symptoms AND during the 48 hours before symptoms developed or testing positive for COVID-19 if no symptoms.
1. Stay home and isolate immediately
- Separate yourself from others inside your home, including animals, as much as possible.
- Do not go to work, school, or other public areas.
- Avoid using public transportation.
- Restrict activities outside of your home, except to get medical care.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If you can't wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rub hands together until dry. Manage your COVID-19 symptoms at home
A person with COVID-19 is considered to be contagious starting from 2 days before they became sick (or 2 days before they tested positive if they never had symptoms) until all three of these things are true:
- You feel better and
- Your cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms are better and
- It has been 10 days since you first felt sick and You have had no fever for at least 24 hours, without using medicine that lowers fevers.
2. Let others know you are positive
- Figure out the calendar date of two days before your first symptoms. (For example, if your headache/fever started December 5, then write down the date December 3.)
- Write down everyone that you had contact with between the date you wrote down and now.
- Call these people and let them know you are COVID positive.
- Tell your employer, school, or child care center about your diagnosis, even if you didn't personally go to these places. (Someone in your household could be COVID-19 positive and not know it.)
- You can anonymously tell your close contacts by visiting TellYourContacts.org to send a text or email to those who need to know.
3. Avoid other people, even those in your household
- If you have to be around other people or pets, such as sharing a room or vehicle, or before entering a health care provider's office, wear a face covering or mask.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw away in a lined trashcan. Wash hands thoroughly afterward. Soap and water are best.
- Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes and glasses, or bedding.
- Clean all "high touch" surfaces every day, such as counters, tables, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, phones, and keyboards.
4. Seek help if you need it
- If you are having a medical emergency, call 911. Notify dispatch that you have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Monitor your symptoms at home and call before visiting your doctor. If you have an appointment, please tell them you have tested positive for COVID-19.
- In general, people can stop isolating 10 days after their symptoms started if they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours and their symptoms are improving. The last day for isolation for someone who never had symptoms is 10 days after their positive test.
5. Complete the reporting form
Olmsted County Public Health needs this information to track the disease. With this information, we can help control the spread.
6. Your isolation is over when
You and those in your household who are COVID-19 positive have been fever-free for at least 24 hours, WITHOUT using medicine that reduces fevers.
Your other symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours.
At least 10 days have passed since you first had symptoms
if you have never had symptoms, the last day of isolation is 10 days after your positive test.
When your organization has a positive case
Olmsted County Public Health seeks to partner with organizations impacted by positive cases and clusters of cases to prevent further spread.
Due to the volume of cases in Olmsted County we are providing online tools to assist your organization and to help us understand how to best provide support.
Keep in mind
A close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of the positive person for 15 minutes or longer over a 24-hour period. This includes cumulative time. (For example: "Employee A" had three separate interactions, each five minutes long with "Employee B" who was infectious during a shift. Thus, "Employee A" is a close contact.)
If this is a medical emergency, call 911.
1. Be Transparent
Make staff aware of what has happened and what is being done to protect them. This may include policy changes, modifications of work assignments, virtual meetings, and additional disinfection among others. (Do NOT disclose the names of anyone who has tested positive.)
2. Remain diligent - allow infected staff to stay home
All individuals who are positive need to isolate at home for 10 days from the start of symptoms.
If they do not have symptoms, it will be 10 days from their positive test.
COVID positive individuals must stay home until all three of these things are true:
- The person feels better (the case’s cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms are better) and
- It has been 10 days since the person first felt sick, and
- The person has no fever for at least 24 hours, without using medicine that lowers fevers.
3. Conduct an internal contact tracing investigation
Interview the positive individual to determine who were their close contacts
4. Tell close contacts to self-quarantine 14 days
Close contacts should be told to self-quarantine for 14 days even if they test negative anytime during the quarantine. A negative test result DOES NOT mean come back to work.
The safest option for close contacts is to stay home (including work, school, activities) and away from others for 14 days. In certain situations, close contacts may end their quarantine after 10 days, or after seven days with a negative COVID-19 PCR test result (not antibody/blood or antigen). Close contact’s quarantine cannot end before seven days for any reason.
Close contacts MUST complete quarantine, negative result or not.
5. For more information
- MN Department of Health "If you are sick: COVID19" web page
- Minnesota's Stay Safe Plan
- General Business Guidance
- Recommendations for Critical Infrastructure Businesses
- COVID-19 Preparedness Plan Template
Replacing Vaccine Card
Many people received a COVID-19 vaccine card when they received their vaccination. Some did not get a card and others have lost, misplaced, or forgotten to enter the information needed. Individuals who need complete and official proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations have a couple of options:
- If you received your vaccine at a provider or pharmacy, contact the provider directly or use your patient portal and ask to have a copy of your vaccine record emailed, mailed to you, or available for pick up from your provider.
- If you received your vaccine at any provider in Minnesota, use the link to request a copy of your vaccine record from MIIC (Minnesota Immunization Information Connection). This may take 28 business days to process.
- The Minnesota Department of Health has also released the Docket, a free app available for download in Apple and Android app stores, enabling residents to securely view and share their immunization records.
- If you need to update your phone number and address to access your immunization records, go to Find My Immunization Record