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Pine County Begins COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

From Pine County Public Health:

"Pine County Public Health is thrilled to announce that its vaccination plan to immunize Minnesota’s priority populations is well underway. In late December, Pine County Public Health received its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is given in two doses, at 28 days apart. Pine County Public Health Director Samantha Lo reports that in clinical trials, both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have shown a 95% efficacy rate. Lo explains that this is a very high efficacy rate, and people can be confident that this is a powerful and safe tool in fighting the pandemic.

After receiving the vaccines, Pine County Public Health held vaccination clinics at the two skilled nursing facilities in Pine County. Excellent coordination between Pine County Health and Human Services and staff at the skilled nursing facilities made the clinics a huge success. The Public Health vaccination teams have also begun to vaccinate local EMS personnel who are not affiliated with a health agency. Next on the list to be vaccinated are residents and staff of Assisted Living Facilities. And shortly after, other health care workers will be eligible to receive the first dose of the vaccination. Lo is pleased to report that she and the vaccination teams are on track to meet the state’s goal of providing the first dose of the vaccine to all Tier 1a individuals by the end of January. Lo explains, “This is an exciting time for our community and Pine County Public Health is thrilled to be a vaccine provider. Many of our fellow community members have suffered and sadly, COVID has claimed far too many lives. There is light at the end of this tunnel, and we are grateful to be meeting this important need.” Lo wants to stress that receiving the vaccine is voluntary and is only approved for emergency use authorization.

Pine County Health and Human Services Director Rebecca Foss is ecstatic that the vaccine is now available and that the first dose has been provided to community members working and living in skilled nursing facilities. Foss is looking forward to the vaccine becoming more widely available so that anyone who wants to receive the vaccine can do so. Foss explains, “The last ten months have been difficult for our entire community. Although it may be months before most people are vaccinated, we are making strides in fighting the pandemic. The vaccine has proven to be both safe and effective- which gives us a powerful tool in keeping our community safe.” Both Lo and Foss want to express thanks to their entire health and human services team members, many of whom have dedicated extra time and effort to combat the pandemic. Public Health Supervisor Jessica Fehlen, Public Health Emergency Coordinator Krista Jensen and Health Educator Hailey Freedlund have spent numerous hours in educating the community about COVID-19, and are now providing education about the vaccine, so that individuals can have up-to-date and factual information from a local, reliable source. Special thanks should also be given to Social Services Supervisor Patrick Meacham and Case Manager Andrea Anderson, who have been instrumental in coordinating the vaccination rollout with local long-term care facilities.

As the vaccination is being provided to Tier 1a individuals, Pine County Public Health is waiting for the Minnesota Department of Health to prioritize the order of Tier 1b individuals. Tier 1b is a large group, and it includes front-line essential workers and individuals who are 75 years and older. Lo states, “Pine County Public Health has worked hard to advocate for everyone’s health and safety during the pandemic. It is a privilege to be a vaccine provider, and we eagerly anticipate the next stages of the vaccine rollout.” Lo also urges the community to “like and follow” the Pine County Public Health Facebook page for any new information about COVID. People may also continue to access up-to-date information about COVID and the vaccine rollout by going to the Pine County website. Community members may also call the Pine County Public Health COVID-19 Hotline, which is staffed by public health employees. The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m."

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