In the past year, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 disease led to a global pandemic that changed our lives. Our public health and health care staff worked diligently to launch COVID-19 testing sites, disease surveillance systems, case investigation and contact tracing teams, small and large vaccine clinics, communications and outreach, and an information hotline while continuing to provide the regular care and services needed in new and creative ways. These efforts, along with the community’s trust and sacrifices, have helped reduce the burden of COVID-19 in our community and saved lives.
Over the last month, we have begun to see the impact a vaccination campaign can make at the community level. After a year of trying to hold back the transmission of this new disease by washing our hands, working and schooling from home, quarantining, and staying socially distanced, the COVID-19 vaccine provided another important tool. The vaccines allow us to proactively protect our family, friends, and neighbors and reduce the number of people infected by the virus.
Olmsted County is close to reaching 80% of our 16+ population receiving at least one dose of vaccine. The graph above shows the percent of Olmsted County residents with at least one dose of vaccine by age group in the last several weeks. Each week, we move closer to the target of 70%. Currently, the only age groups that are not meeting this target are 12-15 and 16-17 year-olds, however steady progress continues.
Initially, we saw COVID-positive cases in long-term care settings disappear. This trend continued in the aging population as the vaccine was rolled out to high-priority populations. Now, with vaccines widely available for adults we are seeing a significant decrease in the number of new cases across the county. Last week, we had 30 new cases – the lowest since the pandemic began!
With the steady decline in new cases, along with low positivity rates and hospitalizations, we are seeing people get out of their houses, businesses re-opening, and jobs returning. Summer of 2021 now looks much more like 2019 than 2020. Every day we see examples of how our communities are beginning to bounce back and show us that we are moving away from the pandemic and back to a normal life.
COVID-19 will be here in some capacity for the foreseeable future which means unvaccinated people continue to be at risk as long as the virus is circulating locally. We encourage everyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so as they are able. The more people vaccinated the quicker we can reduce the prevalence of the virus circulating in our communities, and the fewer opportunities for dangerous variants and strains to develop.
With the end in sight, this will be the last COVID-19 vaccine newsletter. We will continue to post updates and important information on our website and through our social media channels as information changes. Stay safe.
Where to get a vaccine
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): All Olmsted Medical Center (OMC) patients 12 years of age and older are invited to call 507-292-7300 to schedule an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Appointments will typically take place at the Rochester Northwest Clinic.
Community Health Services: Call 507-529-0503 for more information.
Rochester Clinic: Call 507-218-3095 for more information.
Olmsted County Public Health: Olmsted County Public Health is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone who is eligible. Vaccine clinics are by appointment only and are first-come, first-serve. Appointments will be held during our regular clinic hours. Beginning Monday, June 14, call 507-328-7000 to schedule an appointment.
Local pharmacies: Call your local pharmacy for more information
Other Options: Many options are available to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine including local pharmacies and the State of Minnesota. The State of Minnesota Vaccine Locator and also the Vaccine Finder can help you find opportunities for vaccination.
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.