Disclaimer: The information on this page is continuously changing. Please check back often.
Last updated: February 24, 2021
Vaccine supplies are still very limited across the state and it will take time before everyone can get it. Progress is being made; however because demand continues to be far greater than the supply right now, vaccinations continue to be prioritized. Olmsted County Public Health, Mayo Clinic, and Olmsted Medical Center follow the recommendations and guidelines provided by the Minnesota Department of Health.
People in the following groups are currently eligible to make appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine through the Community Vaccination Program:
- Minnesotans aged 65 and over
- Pre-kindergarten through Adult Basic and Community Education school staff members, and contracted school staff members
- Child care staff members at licensed and certified child care centers or programs
If you are an educator or child care worker, please do not attempt to make an appointment unless you are notified by your local public health agency or employer, or by a state-sponsored community vaccination site or state vaccination partner that you’ve been selected to receive a vaccine. Child care programs and schools will work directly with employees to get an appointment through the state-sponsored appointment scheduling portal. Due to the limited supply of vaccine, schools will prioritize employees based on face-to-face interaction with children, and child care providers will use a random selection process.
While Minnesota is expanding those eligible for a vaccine, we continue to serve healthcare workers and certain congregate care residents and staff in Phase 1a. These people can still plan on receiving the vaccine through their workplace, care facility, or local public health.
State of Minnesota Vaccine Connector
The Vaccine Connector tool was developed to help Minnesotans find out when, where, and how to get their COVID-19 vaccine. When Minnesotans become eligible, the Vaccine Connector will:
- alert them of their eligibility;
- connect them to resources to schedule a vaccine appointment; and
- notify them if there are vaccine opportunities in their area.
Individuals will still make appointments directly through a registered vaccinator at this time. But the Connector is intended to be an easy way to stay updated about their eligibility and find opportunities to get a shot once it’s their turn. Minnesotans age 65+ who sign up with the Vaccine Connector will also be automatically included in the selection process for appointments at state-run community vaccination sites. Learn more about the tool.
Understand who is eligible, where and how to get a COVID-19 vaccine
Navigating who is eligible and how to receive a vaccine right now is very challenging. Several locations may be offering vaccine, as vaccines become available to them.
Hospitals and clinics
- Mayo Clinic: Currently offering vaccinations to empaneled patients over the age of 75. Patients will be contacted directly.
- Olmsted Medical Center: Currently offering vaccinations to patients over the age of 80. Patients will be contacted directly.
- Community Health Services: Currently offering vaccinations to 65+ individuals who are: CHSI and Good Samaritan Clinic patients, uninsured Olmsted County residents, regional agricultural workers with or without insurance. Call clinic for more information.
- Rochester Clinic: Currently offering vaccinations to patients over the age of 65. Patients will be contacted directly.
Olmsted County Public Health: Currently working with employers to vaccinate staff and residents within the Phase 1A categories, E-12 staff with student contact, and child care providers. Not vaccinating individuals at this time; individuals will be contacted by their health care provider when they are eligible.
Please do NOT contact your health care provider or public health about receiving the vaccine.
Local pharmacies: Currently offering vaccinations to long-term care (group homes, adult foster care, assisted living, skilled nursing) residents and staff. May also offer vaccinations to their clients over the age of 65 if vaccine is available.
Veterans Administration: Currently offering vaccination to veterans enrolled in VA Healthcare. The VA will send a letter when they are eligible to receive the vaccine.
State of Minnesota
- State of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program (CVP): The state of Minnesota is using a random selection process to schedule appointments at our community vaccination sites. If you signed up for pre-registration in the past and have not yet been randomly selected, you will continue to have the opportunity to be chosen to make an appointment for a vaccine at our Minneapolis, Duluth, or Rochester community vaccination sites.
* If you're aged 65+ and have not yet registered to be randomly selected to make an appointment, you can register now! Sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector to find out when, where, and how to get your vaccine.
* You may be able to find an appointment at your local healthcare provider. Use our new vaccine locator map to find a provider that’s convenient for you!
* Please be patient and remember that demand for vaccine far exceeds supply. More opportunities for vaccination will be coming as we get more vaccine.
Prioritization: The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) provides recommendations using the established federal guidelines on which groups will get the vaccine first and we strictly follow the recommendations. MDH has established a COVID-19 vaccine allocation advisory group to help ensure the vaccine is distributed quickly and fairly across the state. The advisory group is made up of external partners who represent key populations in the state, such as local public health, long-term care, pharmacy partners, diverse communities, and more.
Examples of who may be included in 1B
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) list for potential 1b groups. Minnesota Department of Health and the Governors' Office have not fully determined who is in 1B
- First responders (fire & law enforcement)
- Corrections officers
- Food and agricultural workers
- US Postal Service workers
- Manufacturing workers
- Grocery store workers
- Public transit workers
- Education sector & childcare (added to Phase 1 based on Governor’s Direction)
COVID-19 vaccination map
A new vaccine locator map is now available to help connect Minnesotans to vaccination opportunities in their area. The map, found at https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine, 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. While the locator currently provides information for seniors, it will expand over time as more Minnesotans become eligible for the vaccine.
Local public health to administer vaccines to teachers
Education and child care staff will also have the opportunity to receive the vaccine this week at the State vaccination site in Minneapolis, as well as 35 county local public health clinics spread out throughout the entire state. Staff in education and child care settings will be contacted directly if selected to sign up for appointments vaccine at state site or community pharmacy this week.
COVID-19 vaccine FAQs
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.
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, social distancing, and self-quarantining reasonable alternatives to COVID-19 vaccination?
Given the extent of COVID-19 spread in the U.S., masking, social distancing and self-quarantining 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.
Who can get vaccinated and when? (2/18/21)
Because there are very few doses of vaccine available initially, COVID-19 vaccinations follow a phased approach. Olmsted County Public Health, Mayo Clinic, and Olmsted Medical Center follow the recommendations and guidelines provided by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Navigating who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and where, when, and how to get it is very challenging right now. Several locations may be offering the vaccine as supplies become available to them.
|Entity||Phase 1A||Long-Term Care||E-12 staff||Childcare||65 and older|
|Hospitals & Clinics||x||x|
|Olmsted County Public Health||x||x||x||x|
|State of MN Pilot Program -- second dose clinics in progress||x||x||x|
|State of MN Community Vaccination Program||x|
Because vaccine allocations come to these systems in different ways, each system may move fluidly between the phases and priority groups. We encourage people who want the vaccine and are eligible to receive it to use any opportunity available to them.
At this time, Olmsted County residents cannot receive the vaccine by requesting it from their medical provider. Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center, or Olmsted County Public Health will notify patients in their care and employers/staff who qualify to be vaccinated based on state and federal guidelines. Only patients who have been contacted by their healthcare organization can be scheduled to receive their vaccination. Please do NOT contact your clinic or healthcare provider about receiving the vaccine.
Who determines the prioritization?
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) provides recommendations using the established federal guidelines on which groups will get the vaccine first and we strictly follow the recommendations. MDH has established a COVID-19 vaccine allocation advisory group to help ensure the vaccine is distributed quickly and fairly across the state. The advisory group is made up of external partners who represent key populations in the state, such as local public health, long-term care, pharmacy partners, diverse communities, and more. Olmsted County Public Health, Mayo Clinic, and Olmsted Medical Center follow the guidelines established.
Where can I get a vaccination if I’m over 65?
As of February 1, both OMC and Mayo are providing vaccinations to their older patients. Eligible patients will be contacted by their primary health care provider (Olmsted Medical Center or Mayo Clinic) when vaccine becomes available. Walk-in’s are not accepted – appointments are required. To help prepare for when the vaccine becomes available, patients should sign up for the patient portal. Patients will be contacted through their patient portal or letter.
Please do not call your primary care provider or Olmsted County Public Health. Your patience and understanding is appreciated.
Where can I find listings of vaccine providers? (2/10/21)
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 on a consistent basis.
What if I don’t have a medical provider? (2/10/21)
Individuals over the age of 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.
Can I get on a list for the vaccine?
At this time, we are only collecting information from businesses, organizations and agencies in Olmsted County to help us plan for future vaccinations of our critical infrastructure as defined by the State (see the COVID-19 Vaccination Planning for Businesses tab). There is no list for individuals. At this time, those over the age of 80 will be contacted by their primary healthcare provider to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This group will continue to expand as vaccine becomes more plentiful. Eventually, all who want to be vaccinated, will have the opportunity to get vaccinated.
When could vaccines become widely available?
The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine Dec. 11 and the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 18. States were required to place orders for the initial round of vaccine doses by Dec. 4. Progress is being made, although slower than we might like. In Olmsted County, we are close to completing all of Phase 1A and will soon be vaccinating 1B. We continue to provide vaccinations to those currently eligible, including our older populations, school/education staff, childcare workers, and critical infrastructure businesses as defined by the State. Vaccinating the general population could begin in late spring or early summer, depending on vaccine availability.
I own a business -- When can my staff get vaccinated?
All businesses, organizations, and agencies (including schools, daycares, non-profits, etc) in Olmsted County are asked to complete the COVID-19 vaccine planning form.
This form will help identify all the businesses in the county and determine where the business falls within the phases and priorities. The form allows Public Health to quickly connect with the business once vaccines are available and we are able to administer to the various priority groups.
Olmsted County Public Health, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center, and local pharmacies are collaborating and sharing responsibility for vaccinating their respective worksites. Businesses will be contacted by the assigned health care entity. This is the best way to ensure your business and staff, are included in the vaccine planning for the county. The form itself does not register the business or the staff for the vaccine – it simply ensures you are in the system and that you will be contacted as soon as possible.
Why are some states able to vaccinate more groups than Minnesota?
Each state and jurisdiction is allowed to make local decisions regarding vaccine distribution, using the broad guidelines provided by the federal government. This makes it confusing and difficult. Minnesota may be rolling out the vaccine slightly differently than our neighboring states of Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, and very differently than Florida or California.
Where can I find the latest information regarding vaccine distribution?
The Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine webpage has a wealth of information, including the number of vaccines distributed to providers and the total number of vaccines given. Vaccination numbers for Olmsted County can also be found on our COVID-19 Response dashboard
Safety and effectiveness
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.
While there are many COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development, and currently two that have received emergency use authorization from the FDA – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You can visit the CDC's website for more information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety.html.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?
Currently, COVID-19 vaccines are not recommended for children:
- Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is for ages sixteen and above
- Moderna vaccine is for ages eighteen and above.
Clinical trials are ongoing to identify a safe vaccine for children.
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 be contacted to schedule an appointment to receive your second dose.
*One vaccine is being developed by Johnson and Johnson that would require only one dose if approved.
Is one dose of the COVID-19 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.
Will I have a choice of which vaccine I get?
At this time, patients cannot choose which vaccine to receive. Given initial limited supplies, we will distribute available vaccines to the highest risk groups based on guidance from the CDC and MDH.
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?
Yes. We recommend all staff get the flu vaccine and when it becomes available the COVID-19 vaccine.
What to expect after vaccination
Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have received two doses of the vaccine?
Yes. It may take time for everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccination to get one. Also, while the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown at this time if you can still carry and transmit the virus to others after vaccination.
Until more is understood about how well the vaccine works and the level of protection that it provides under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like wearing a face mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others.
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.
Will persons who get the vaccine still have to wear face masks?
Yes. While the vaccine is highly effective at preventing symptomatic and severe disease, it is not 100% effective, and it is not yet known how well it prevents asymptomatic infection, or how long its effects will last. Everyone will need to continue taking precautions like masking and physical distancing until the spread has stopped.
COVID-19 Vaccination Planning for Businesses
This form is intended for Olmsted County businesses (added 1/7/21)
Olmsted County continues to provide vaccinations to those identified in priority groups as established by the MN Department of Health. Vaccines are not provided on a first come first serve basis. Filling out this form helps us identify what priority group your agency falls under and who to contact once we are ready to administer the vaccination for the priority group you fall in. Moving from one phase to another will depend on vaccine supply and how many people are getting vaccinated, so it is hard to estimate when one phase will end, and another will begin.
We will inform you of pending vaccine availability for your priority group, as soon as we are able to anticipate it.
More information can be found at www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/vaccine.
Please complete the form below if you are an Olmsted County business.
COVID-19 Weekly Update
February 23, 2021
Take the first opportunity to get vaccinated that is offered to you
Navigating when you or a loved one is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can be challenging. Several locations in Olmsted County are offering the vaccine in alignment with state guidelines as vaccine supply becomes available. Minnesota is currently vaccinating remaining health care professionals, persons 65 and over, E-12 educators and support staff, and daycare workers. You may have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at multiple locations. It’s okay to be a part of several options. Take the first opportunity to get vaccinated that is offered to you. Visit our COVID webpage regularly for the most up to date information.
State of Minnesota Vaccine Connector
The Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector is a new tool launched by the State of Minnesota to help Minnesotans find out when, where, and how to get their COVID-19 vaccine. When you become eligible to receive the vaccine, the Vaccine Connector will:
- Alert you of your eligibility.
- Connect you to resources to schedule a vaccine appointment.
- Notify you if there are vaccine opportunities in your area.
The Vaccine Connector is intended to be an easy way to stay updated about your eligibility and find opportunities to get a shot when it’s your turn.
Minnesotans age 65+ who sign up with the Vaccine Connector will be automatically included in the selection process for appointments at state-run community vaccination sites. Learn more about the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector.
Vaccine status updates
Vaccine shipment delays
Last week, several states, including Minnesota, experienced delays in COVID-19 vaccine shipments due to severe weather conditions in various parts of the United States. As a result, several state-run and local COVID-19 vaccination clinics and some individual vaccination appointments were postponed. Impacted individuals have been contacted and appointments are being re-rescheduled.
Olmsted County Public Health Services (OCPHS)
COVID-19 vaccine - 2nd dose re-registration
OCPHS sent an email on Friday, February 19, 2021 to individuals who received their first dose of the COVID vaccine on February 5 and 6 at the RCTC fieldhouse or on February 9 at Olmsted County Public Health. These individuals were advised they needed to re-register for their second dose. Only those who received their first COVID vaccine on the dates and locations listed above are affected by this request. If you received a first dose on one of the dates above but were not contacted, please contact the COVID-19 Community Call Center at 507-328-2822.
Progress on vaccinations across the county
Progress is being made as a community with 25.3% of the total population having received at least one dose of vaccine and 16.6% completing the two-dose series. We are also seeing great progress with adults 65 and older with 47.3% of county residents in that population having received at least one dose through their medical provider or one of the state-run clinics.
Mayo Clinic continues to receive a small weekly shipment of COVID-19 vaccines for Minnesota residents 65 and older. Given the need to equitably distribute doses and the high number of patients in this age group, we are currently vaccinating those 75 and older. COVID-19 vaccination eligibility will continue to expand to younger age groups as we receive supplies of COVID-19 vaccines.
For patients to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, they must:
- Have a primary care provider at Mayo, have been seen within the past two years and have a residence in Minnesota (may include some Iowa and Wisconsin patients); or,
- Have been seen at Mayo Clinic within the past two years and have a residence within the catchment area where they were seen. These criteria will be used for patients who do not have a primary care provider at Mayo ― that is, they have been to Mayo for specialty care only.
The catchment area includes Blue Earth, Brown, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Le Sueur, Martin, Mower, Nicollet, Olmsted, Rice, Scott, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Watonwan, and Winona counties.
Patients who meet these criteria will receive a phone call or an invitation via Patient Online Services to schedule an appointment to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Patients who do not have a Patient Online Services account can visit onlineservices.mayoclinic.org or call Mayo Clinic Customer Assistance at 877-858-0398 to establish one.
Olmsted Medical Center (OMC)
OMC is currently offering vaccinations to patients 75+ (as well as others in the same household age 65+), through a randomized process, as vaccine becomes available. When OMC finishes with this group, it will offer vaccine to patients to the next age group as vaccine is available and depending on the amount of vaccine it receives. OMC does not have a timeframe for when the next age group will start or what ages will be included. Patients who are eligible for the vaccine will be contacted by OMC; there is no sign-up list.
Education / information
What is herd immunity?
The following information comes from the Minnesota Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Mayo Clinic.
Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected — not just those who are immune.
Often, a percentage of the population must be capable of getting a disease in order for it to spread. This is called a threshold proportion. If the proportion of the population that is immune to the disease is greater than this threshold, the spread of the disease will decline. This is known as the herd immunity threshold.
What percentage of a community needs to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity? It varies from disease to disease. The more contagious a disease is, the greater the proportion of the population that needs to be immune to the disease to stop its spread. For example, the measles is a highly contagious illness. It's estimated that 94% of the population must be immune to interrupt the chain of transmission.
How is herd immunity achieved?
There are two paths to herd immunity for COVID-19 — vaccines and infection.
Vaccines create immunity without causing illness or resulting complications. Herd immunity makes it possible to protect the population from a disease, including those who can't be vaccinated, such as newborns or those who have compromised immune systems. Using the concept of herd immunity, vaccines have successfully controlled deadly contagious diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, rubella, and many others.
Reaching herd immunity through vaccination sometimes has drawbacks though. Protection from some vaccines can wane over time, requiring revaccination. Sometimes people don't get all of the shots they need to be completely protected from a disease.
In addition, some people may object to vaccines because of religious objections, fears about the possible risks, or skepticism about the benefits. People who object to vaccines often live in the same neighborhoods or attend the same religious services or schools.
If the proportion of vaccinated people in a community falls below the herd immunity threshold, exposure to a contagious disease could result in the disease quickly spreading. Measles has recently resurged in several parts of the world with relatively low vaccination rates, including the United States. Opposition to vaccines can pose a real challenge to herd immunity.
Herd immunity can also be reached when a sufficient number of people in the population have recovered from a disease and have developed antibodies against future infection. For example, those who survived the 1918 flu (influenza) pandemic were later immune to infection with the H1N1 flu, a subtype of influenza A. During the 2009-10 flu season, H1N1 caused the respiratory infection in humans that was commonly referred to as swine flu.
However, there are some major problems with relying on community infection to create herd immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. First, it isn't yet clear if infection with the COVID-19 virus makes a person immune to future infection.
Research suggests that after infection with some coronaviruses, reinfection with the same virus — though usually mild and only happening in a fraction of people — is possible after a period of months or years. Further research is needed to determine the protective effect of antibodies to the virus in those who have been infected.
Even if infection with the COVID-19 virus creates long-lasting immunity, a large number of people would have to become infected to reach the herd immunity threshold. Experts estimate that in the U.S., 70% of the population — more than 200 million people — would have to recover from COVID-19 to halt the epidemic. If many people become sick with COVID-19 at once, the health care system could quickly become overwhelmed. This amount of infection could also lead to serious complications and millions of deaths, especially among older people and those who have chronic conditions.
For more on herd immunity, visit: