Olmsted County residents won’t be fully vaccinated for another five months at the current distribution rate, which has been approximately 7,000 doses a week since the year started.
“I’m hoping to see the vaccine allocation increasing in the near future,” Graham Briggs, Olmsted County’s public health director, told county commissioners Tuesday.
Approximately 12% of county residents have been vaccinated in recent weeks, which have focused on essential health care staff and long-term care facilities.
The county has 18,330 people who have received at least one dose of vaccine, with 2,770 who have received both doses, according to the Minnesota Department of Health website.
“It’s starting to be a really significant number,” Briggs said, adding that an increase to 20,000 doses a week could mean full vaccination in the county within two months.
The hopeful eye toward a potential increase in distribution comes as new COVID cases in Olmsted County continue to trend downward following a November peak and a post-holiday bump.
The county topped 10,000 confirmed cases last week, reaching a reported 10,484 on Tuesday. That means approximately 6.6% of the population has had a confirmed case of the virus, which remains lower than the 7.9% state rate.
On Tuesday, 393 active cases were reported in the county, with the COVID-related death toll reaching 75.
Twenty-six county residents remained in the hospital with COVID on Tuesday, with eight requiring intensive-care beds.
Briggs said the numbers point to the importance of continuing to watch vaccination efforts.
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He said the top priority group should be wrapped up in the county this week, as the state turns its focus to the second tier, which includes health care workers with direct patient contact at medical facilities and people in assisted living.
After that, Briggs said county staff will likely be more involved with reaching out to the third tier, including dentists, school nurses and home health workers.
He said vaccines could start to reach the third group within two weeks, taking another two weeks to offer a first dose to the estimated 3,500 residents.
Briggs said the state effort to use Rochester for one of nine pilot programs to test options for mass vaccinations is likely to bolster the number of residents being vaccinated, but the distribution remains limited to available doses.
County commissioners said that means much of the distribution remains out of county control.
“I’m asking for people to be patient,” Commissioner Gregg Wright said.