With vaccines against the COVID-19 virus on the top of everyone’s agenda after a year of pandemic lockdowns, Amy Caron, the Public Health Director for Dodge and Steele Counties, explained how vaccinations are proceeding in the two counties.
She stressed that, “We take our direction from the federal and state levels. We meet virtually on a weekly basis with state officials about the allocation and prioritization of the vaccine. Each Friday, we learn how many vaccinations we will receive in the following week. We then use that number to plan the vaccine clinic that will be held the following week. Until it got so cold, we held drive thru clinics at the Dodge Center fire station and we are able to vaccinate five drivers in five minutes. For the safety of our staff we have now had to change these clinics to a walk in situation. We are distributing vaccine as safely and efficiently as possible and have met the goal of distributing vaccine within 72 hours of receiving it” she said.
Within Phase 1A of the Minnesota Vaccine Plan, there are three priority groups. Those populations that are included in this phase are as follows: healthcare workers, long term care residents and staff, first responder personnel, COVID-19 vaccinators and testers.
So far, Caron explained, almost all the long-term care facility residents and healthcare personnel in those facilities have been vaccinated with their second doses in Dodge County. Also, almost all emergency personnel including firefighters and first responders have received their vaccinations.
In addition, 80 to 85 percent of the personnel in the three school districts in the county have received their vaccinations. And, more than half of daycare personnel have received vaccinations. These priority populations have been getting vaccinated the last couple of weeks under the vaccine guidelines put forth by the Minnesota Department of Health.
As the vaccinations continue to trickle in, Caron explained, the clinic personnel will continue to vaccinate people in those categories.
Some residents in the county are in the priority population of 65 years and over. When we receive vaccine from the State, this will be the next group vaccinated.
“We understand that group is anxious. We are anxious to get to that population also. However, we only receive zero to 200 doses per week because we are a county with a small population, so it is a slow process.”
She also explained that people from Dodge County can go elsewhere; they do not have to stay in the county; they can seek vaccinations anywhere within the state.
“Have patience. Please continue to take precautions. Stay six feet apart and wear a mask. We will get everyone vaccinated that wants that protection,” she noted.
More information about the pandemic is available at www.co.dodge.mn.us/departments/public_health.php
The Minnesota Department of Health website is https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/vaccine/index.html