Good News: The COVID-19 vaccine is here!
Bad News: There is more demand than there is vaccine.
Vaccination planning for millions of people is a complex task with thousands of moving parts. COVID-19 vaccinations have started for those most at-risk for contracting the disease through their work duties and/or having serious consequences from the disease. Because there is a limited supply of vaccine, priority groups have been established by the federal government, and sub-priority groups have been added by the Minnesota Department of Health. Local public health strictly follows the guidance and recommendations provided by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The current focus for vaccinations in Olmsted County is on Phase 1a, Priority 1 and 2.
Phase 1a - First Priority
Who is included
- Hospitals: All personnel working in dedicated COVID-19 units, ICU, emergency departments, designated COVID-19 urgent care clinics. This includes, but is not limited to, nurses and nursing assistants, doctors, advanced practice providers, respiratory therapists, lab/tech staff, and environmental services/maintenance staff.
- Long-term care facilities (skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes): All personnel working in these settings and residents living in these settings, including veterans’ homes.
- Emergency Medical Services Personnel: People providing direct patient care as part of the EMS system. This includes air ambulance pilots, ground ambulance drivers, physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and those personnel certified or registered by the EMSRB: paramedic, emergency medical technicians, and advanced EMTs, and emergency medical responders.
- COVID-19 testers: Personnel providing testing at large community testing centers.
Phase 1a - Second Priority
Who is included
- Hospitals: All personnel providing direct patient services or handling infectious materials and not included in the first priority group.
- Long-term care facilities (Assisted living facilities/housing with services with an arranged home care provider): All personnel working these facilities.
- Urgent care settings: All personnel providing direct patient services or handling infectious materials and not included in the first priority group.
- Dialysis centers: All personnel providing direct patient services or handling infectious materials.
Olmsted County is responsible for vaccinating EMS personnel, community COVID-19 vaccinators, and COVID-19 testers at regional testing sites. We also ensure our skilled nursing, assisted living, and other long-term care staff and residents are matched with a local pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens, and Thrifty White) through the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program or through designated state vaccinators (Hy-Vee).
At this time, only Phase 1a priority 1 and 2 have been fully determined
1a, priority 3 (includes health care personnel that work in hospitals, ambulatory and outpatient settings, home health settings, emergency shelters, dental offices, pharmacies, correctional settings, and group homes) is very large and we are currently waiting for MDH to provide additional guidance – will there be sub-priority groups? Are administrative staff or those without direct client interactions included? Will there be a verification process?
Phase 1a - Third Priority (still under development at the state level)
Who is included
- All remaining health care personnel not included in the first and second priority groups that are unable to telework. This may include health care personnel that work in hospitals, ambulatory and outpatient settings, home health settings, emergency shelters, dental offices, pharmacies, correctional settings, and group homes.
- Adult residents living in Intermediate Care Facilities for people with intellectual disabilities and other adult residents living in residential care facilities licensed in Minnesota primarily serving at-risk people including older adults, people with intellectual and physical disabilities, in setting such as community residential settings and adult foster care.
Additional priority groups have not been identified by MDH.
Completion of Phase 1a is dependent on vaccine availability and allocation and could take several weeks to complete. Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center, and Olmsted County Public Health Services have vaccinated almost 10,000 healthcare staff to date.
As the supply increases, other essential workers and people age 75 and older will likely be in the next group. Later, as more vaccine becomes available, other groups at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 and the general public will be recommended to get the vaccine. Eventually, everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine can get vaccinated.
Question of the week
Can I get on a list for the vaccine?
Currently, there’s no “list” that people need to get on to get a vaccine. The first group to be vaccinated will include health care workers and long-term care residents. Since phase 1a is based on employment and place of residence, people in this category will be contacted by their employer or the facility where they live to let them know when the vaccine is available. The details for the next priority groups have yet to be determined but may include essential workers and older adults. In later phases, the vaccine will likely be available through pharmacies, primary care providers, and/or community vaccination clinics.