St. Louis County seeks to ensure no one in Phase 1a vaccine groups was overlooked

According to a county press release, people currently eligible to receive the vaccine are people who are in the state’s first and second priority groups of Phase 1a.

Phase 1a has three priority groups. Those currently eligible for the vaccine include EMS-certified staff, emergency and dialysis center staff, residents and staff in qualified nursing, long-term care and assisted living facilities.

The employers of these people may already have agreements about the administration of vaccines with a hospital or pharmacy, as public health is only one of three systems that deliver vaccines.

Every employer whose staff is qualified to receive vaccines according to phase 1a and has not been contacted by any of the three systems is requested to register at stlouiscountymn.gov/vaccineregistration.

“We’re working through these priority groups (Phase 1a) as quickly as possible and we want to make sure no one is accidentally overlooked,” said Amy Westbrook, director of the St. Louis County Public Health Department, in the press release.

Amy Westbrook, St. Louis County Public Health Director, speaks during a March press conference at the St. Louis County Government House in Duluth.  (File / News Tribune)

Amy Westbrook, St. Louis County Public Health Director, speaks during a March press conference at the St. Louis County Government House in Duluth. (File / News Tribune)

St. Louis County has begun collecting information for organizations with individuals eligible to receive vaccines under the third priority group of Phase 1a.

“This allows for faster notification and planning when the next phase of vaccinations can begin,” the press release said.

Those falling under the third priority of Phase 1a include employees from these organizations who cannot work from home:

  • Care for adults
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Community living environment
  • Correction settings
  • Dental offices
  • Emergency shelters
  • Funeral home
  • Group houses
  • Home health care
  • Intermediate care facilities
  • Mental and behavioral health attitudes
  • Pharmacies
  • Public health clinics
  • Care facilities

EMS certified personnel who are not in the first priority group and school nurses also end up in the third priority category.

St. Louis County is in its third week of vaccine administration. The first wave of people vaccinated on December 24th is scheduled to receive their second dose on January 21st.

In a meeting of the St. Louis County Board Tuesday, Westbrook said the county does not yet know when it will have received enough vaccines to proceed with Phase 1b vaccines. The district has not yet started a registration process or a waiting list for people in this category.

The Minnesota Department of Health expects guidelines for the Phase 1b priority group to be available next week.

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The entire county – public health, hospitals and pharmacies – received 7,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Public health has given 800 of its 1,000 doses to date. Another 500 cans are coming soon.

The county will soon start a mobile testing and vaccination program, Westbrook said, to expand its reach.

“We hope to operationalize this from next week,” she said.

St. Louis County will publish a call for volunteers this week.

“Personnel is the biggest problem we see across the state. Just the amount of people available to get shot in (other people’s) arms is the biggest need,” Westbrook said.

Reporter Brady Slater contributed to this story.

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