EMS workers in Cannon Falls and Kenyon

Goodhue County Health and Human Services administered the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines to EMS workers in Cannon Falls and Kenyon on Jan. 15. (Photo courtesy of Goodhue County Health and Human Services)

When enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are available to non-priority groups in Goodhue County, local residents approved to receive the COVID-19 vaccine may not have to drive too far.

On Feb. 9, the Kenyon City Council approved a request from Goodhue County Emergency Manager Diane Richter-Biwer to use the Fire Hall for COVID vaccination clinics.

City Administrator Mark Vahlsing said the the Emergency Manager’s Office has been looking for place in the county to locate COVID vaccination clinics and sites in Red Wing and Cannon Falls have already been approved. Vahlsing said Kenyon would be the last site.

“I’ve looked at this site and proposal with Police Chief Lee Sjolander, Fire Chief Lee Skillestad and Public Works Director Wayne Ehrich and we didn’t see any issues,” said Vahlsing. “We think it would benefit area residents.”

Vahlsing said the county will also be responsible for cleaning up and disposing of waste after each clinic. Shots will be administered by Goodhue County Health and Human Services personnel.

The Emergency Management Office has also been seeking partnerships with the Cannon Falls area schools, city of Red Wing and Stary-Yerka VFW.

After a motion to approve the county’s request, Council Member Dan Rechtzigel said the Fire Hall would be a great spot as there is lots of parking and it’s easy to find from of the highway. Most recently, the council switched the city’s polling place to the Fire Fall for similar reasons.

During the council’s comment portion of the meeting, after the request was approved, Council Member Mary Bailey questioned whether those scheduled to receive the vaccine would be able to learn more about the clinics beforehand.

Ehrich and Sjolander, who both received the vaccine last month, assured her they received a great deal of information after signing up for the clinic two weeks prior. Ehrich added it was also completely voluntary and no one was forced to receive a vaccine.

The agreement the council approved at its Feb. 9 meeting covers five years for any Goodhue County emergency vaccination or mass dispensing activities.

In January, many EMS workers, healthcare workers, police officers and firefighters were vaccinated in the county. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, as of Feb. 8, 5,143 people in Goodhue County received at least one vaccine dose and 1,547 received the complete vaccine series. The Goodhue County Health and Human Services announced on Feb. 2 the number of Goodhue County residents who have received at least one of COVID-19 vaccine exceeded the number of positive lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Goodhue County.

In Goodhue County, there have been more than 3,749 positive lab confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Reach reporter Michelle Vlasak at 507-333-3128 or follow her on Twitter @apgmichelle. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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