As COVID-19 vaccinations are still being distributed to health care workers, local public health officials are waiting for clarifications on who’s next in line to receive vaccinations.
Olmsted County Public Health rolled out a new registration tool to help distribute vaccines to companies with workers in the next priority group Thursday.
The online application will help county health officials see which businesses and how many employees need vaccinations. The next priority group is frontline workers, after all health care workers receive vaccinations.
However, also Thursday, state health officials announced that vaccinators can start giving COVID-19 vaccines to people who are not in those defined high-priority groups, including people who are 65 and older. That policy only applies to organizations that have leftover doses after vaccinating all frontline health care workers and other high-priority workers.
That guidance doesn’t appear to apply to organizations in Olmsted County where health care workers are still receiving vaccinations, said Leah Espinda-Brandt, disease prevention control and nurse manager at Olmsted County Public Health.
Dr. Abinash Virk, infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic, said all doses of the vaccine made available to Mayo are given to high-priority workers there.
Local health officials are also waiting for clarification on exactly who falls under the next priority group of frontline workers.
Home health care workers, dental employees, and other health care workers are part of the final tier of health care workers still needing vaccination. The online application will help health officials track who needs vaccines, which field they work in, and help health officials plan the most efficient way to vaccinate them.
That’s once enough vaccines are received to begin administering to the next priority group, said Kari Etrheim, communications coordinator at Olmsted County Public Health.
“Besides the fact that we know lots of people are eligible, we don’t have the vaccine for all of them,” she said.
Espinda-Brandt said that group might be split into tiers like health care workers were because it’s a large population in the county.
As of Thursday, 14,678 people in Olmsted County have received at least one dose of the vaccine — about 9.6% of the population. Statewide, 153,332 people have received at least one dose.