Dunn vaccine

Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn receives the first of two COVID-19 vaccinations on Dec. 30, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Rice County Public Health)

Faribault Fire Chief Dusty Dienst, Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn and 48 others were part of the first group of individuals vaccinated by Rice County Public Health with COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 30.

“We are excited to finally move into the next phase of pandemic response – vaccinating!” says Deb Purfeerst, Rice County Public Health director. “Our first clinic ran very smoothly – a 100% show-rate!”

Rice County Public Health received its first shipment of 200 doses of COVID-19 vaccine last week, and are currently vaccinating individuals in the Phase 1a First Priority Group. Steele County is conducting a similar roll out.

Vaccines will be rolled out in a phased approach. With limited initial doses, some prioritization needs to happen. The state plan is to “immunize for impact” – protecting the most vulnerable and exposed, including healthcare workers and long term care residents first. Later, other priority groups will be phased in, including certain work groups, persons with high-risk medical conditions, and persons 65 and older.

Those included in the Phase 1a – First Priority tier include health care personnel working in dedicated COVID-19 units, ICU, and emergency departments; staff and residents working in skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes; emergency medical services personnel, COVID community testers, and COVID community vaccinators.

Initially vaccines will be given in closed settings such as hospitals and long term care facilities. Hospitals will vaccinate their staff, staff and residents in skilled nursing facilities in Rice County will be vaccinated by federally arranged pharmacy vendors, and local public health will be vaccinating individuals in the other groups.

Second priority groupings in Phase 1a include all hospital personnel providing direct patient services, staff and residents in assisted living facilities and group homes, and healthcare personnel in urgent care settings and dialysis centers. Third priority groupings in Phase 1a include remaining health care personnel as well as adults in residential care facilities. More information about the Minnesota Guidance for Allocating and Prioritizing COVID -19 Vaccine can be found on the MDH website at health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/vaccine/plan.html.

There is not a “list” that people need to sign up on to get vaccinated. Since Phase 1a is based on employment and place of residence, people eligible for this phase will be contacted by their employer or the facility where they live to let them know when vaccine is available to them. In later phases, vaccine will be available at settings such as a pharmacy or primary care clinic, and people will be able to make an appointment to get it. The first two vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, began distribution in December.

All vaccines must meet strict safety standards, and all COVID-19 vaccines go through the same rigorous clinical trials that other vaccines go through. Both Pfizer and Moderna indicate vaccine efficacy of 95%, and both vaccines will require two doses, given about a month apart. After the second dose, it will take about two weeks for your body to build up protection.

Vaccines can reduce deaths and serious illness, but they are just one tool in the toolbox to conquer this pandemic. Public Health asks all residents, whether vaccinated or not, to continue to follow public health measures to help stop disease spread, including wearing a mask, physically distancing, washing your hands, following guidance for isolation and quarantine, and staying home if you are sick.

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