Otter Tail County Public Health has received its initial doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and is working quickly to get it out into the community. Public Health vaccinators began to receive their vaccine just before the new year, and Jan. 4, marks the first administration clinic held by Public Health to vaccinate emergency medical responders in phase 1A., said a news release from Otter Tail County.

Vaccine administration is following the guidance of the Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice and subsequent Minnesota Department of Health recommendations and guidance. In working with local health care partners, and select pharmacies, vaccine administration is occurring throughout all three priority groups in phase 1A as the vaccine is available and ready. The goal is to get the vaccine out as quickly as able and to not waste a dose.

For those populations identified as eligible in phase 1A, Public Health is sending electronic surveys to identified points of contact to help in gathering information about the number of staff and residents eligible for the vaccine. Currently, those surveys also help inform the number of doses of COVID-19 vaccine received at Public Health. From there, vaccine administration clinics are scheduled and an invitation to register is sent to those eligible. As phases progress and expand and more people are eligible for the vaccine, information can be found here: ottertailcountymn.us/covid-19-vaccine/

Who will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine? It is important to remember that there will not be enough vaccine initially for everyone. For this reason, we are planning for vaccination in phases, with different groups and populations able to receive the vaccine at different times until there is enough vaccine for anyone who wants it.

The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be given to people working in health care settings who could get COVID-19 at work and people who live in long-term care facilities. Other groups that may get some of the early doses include some emergency medical responders, essential workers, adults with high-risk medical conditions, and older adults.

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Who determines the phases of who receives the early doses of the COVID-19 vaccine? MDH has brought together a COVID-19 vaccine allocation advisory group to help us make sure we are fairly and strategically making decisions for how vaccines should be distributed. The advisory group is made up of external partners who represent key populations in the state, such as local public health, long-term care, pharmacy partners, diverse communities, and more.

Is there a waiting list? There is not a waiting list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, people who are able to get the vaccine first will be contacted by their employers or the long-term care facility where they live.

Until the COVID-19 vaccine is widely available, Public Heath asks that everyone, including those who have been vaccinated, to continue to practice prevention measures like wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding gathering with those outside of the same household.

For more information, go to the CDC or the Minnesota Department of Health website, call Otter Tail County Public Health at 218-998-8320, or visit ottertailcountymn.us.