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Olmsted County Public Health encourages COVID boosters to fight rate increases

Southeast Minnesota remains an area of low community transmission of COVID-19, but rates more than doubled in some counties last week, according to CDC data.

A COVID-19 vaccination is prepared to be administered.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo

ROCHESTER — Olmsted County Public Health, along with local health care providers, are encouraging residents to make sure their vaccination status is up to date.

The county released a statement Wednesday pointing out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports cases of COVID-19 are increasing while other respiratory illness rates are beginning to drop.

Southeast Minnesota remains a region of low community spread of the COVID virus, but rates more than doubled in six of the eight counties last week.

Olmsted County saw an 83% increase — the region’s lowest — with nearly 88 cases confirmed in a seven-day period per 100,000 residents.

The area’s steepest rate increase — 240% — was in Fillmore County, where nearly 81 cases were confirmed per 100,000 residents.


The region’s highest reported case rate — 134.41 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents — was reported in Houston County, which saw a nearly 178% rate increase from the previous week.

The counties stay in the low transmission category when they report less than 200 cases per 100,000 residents and see less than 10 COVID-related hospitalizations for the same population.

Olmsted County has not seen a rate of more than 200 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents since August.

Statewide, the CDC reported Minnesota saw nearly 95 confirmed COVID cases for every 100,000 residents, which was a 102% increase from the previous week.

A new COVID-19 omicron variant, XBB.1.5, is spreading quickly and being closely monitored, according to Olmsted County Public Health.

The variant in current circulation is new, and public health officials, along with Mayo Clinic, and Olmsted Medical Center, cited the importance of vaccination as a tool against severe illness.

They continue to provide bivalent booster shots to anyone who has not already received one.

Initial bivalent boosters were available for anyone 12 and older on Sept. 12, with a version for 5- to 11-year-olds available a month later. A third option for younger children who received the Moderna primary series was released Dec. 9.


The CDC has not approved a bivalent booster for children aged 6 months to 4 years who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine primary series.

Olmsted County Public Health said people are considered up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines when they have completed a primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended by CDC.

Mayo and CDC recommend only one updated bivalent COVID-19 booster dose two months after a completed COVID-19 primary series or a monovalent (original) booster dose for most people.

Vaccines and booster are available through several sources:

  • Olmsted County Public Health Services: Individuals wishing to receive a COVID vaccination from OCPHS should call 507-328-7500.
  • Mayo Clinic: Eligible patients can schedule a COVID-19 vaccine booster by using Patient Online Services, calling their local primary care appointment office to schedule an appointment or contacting Mayo Clinic Rochester at 507-284-2511, if they do not have a primary care provider in Rochester.
  • Olmsted Medical Center: OMC in Rochester is not offering booster-only appointments at this time. Patients wanting a booster should ask to have it given at their regularly scheduled appointment in primary care. Appointments for the primary series of vaccines can be made by calling 507-292-7300.
  • Local pharmacies: Many pharmacies are also providing COVID-19 vaccine boosters. You can find a location on the Minnesota Department of Health Vaccine Finder website .

COVID-19 vaccine bivalent boosters are also available for anyone 12 and older at OMC branch clinics, which will be offering the COVID-19 bivalent boosters one day a week, during clinic hours. Appointments are required and can be made by calling 507-292-7300.

Scheduled vaccine clinics are:

  • Cannon Falls – Wednesdays.
  • Chatfield – Thursdays.
  • Lake City – Mondays.
  • Pine Island – Thursdays.
  • Plainview – Thursdays.
  • Preston – Tuesdays.
  • Spring Valley – Wednesdays.
  • St. Charles – Mondays.
  • Stewartville – Fridays.
Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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