Olmsted County vaccinations are outpacing statewide and nationwide rates.
While the Minnesota Department of Health reports 3.5 percent of Minnesotans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 12 percent of Olmsted County residents have rolled up their sleeves for a dose.
“We have a high proportion of healthcare staff in Olmsted, which means a higher percent of initial doses for high-priority groups,” Olmsted County Public Health Director Graham Briggs said of the current pace.
“Overall, that has led to higher community level percent vaccinated to this point,” he added. “However, that also has led to limited vaccines to this point for the next priority groups on the list.”
The reported 18,331 people vaccinated in Olmsted County are county residents. That’s roughly 9 percent of all the people vaccinated in the state.
“We’re closing in on 3,000 (people) that have completed the series,” Briggs said. The number puts the county at approximately 7 percent of the state’s population that has been given both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Meaghan Sherden, the county’s lead epidemiologist, said the state is counting people being vaccinated based on their county of residence, rather than where the shot was administered.
The result has bolstered numbers in surrounding counties, with 10,000 people being vaccinated in the area around Olmsted County.
The region’s vaccination rate is 7.7 percent for people receiving at least one dose. That compares with 3.1 percent in the seven-county Twin Cities area.
Briggs said earlier this week that Olmsted County expects to see vaccinations shift to the state’s recommended second- and third-tier priorities in the upcoming week, since the top priority group is being wrapped up.
He said essential health-care providers, along with staff and residents in long-term care facilities, have all been offered a chance to receive the vaccine.
“We’ve had most people being interested with a couple exceptions here or there,” Briggs said, pointing to some nursing home residents facing end-of-life decisions.
Yes 92% No 5% Maybe, haven't decided 3%
Will you get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Thank you for voting!
Maybe, haven't decided
As the work shifts, Briggs said it’s unclear whether the county will continue to see the same distribution pace, which is set by the state level, based on available doses.
“It’s difficult to know with current information how vaccines will be allocated in the near future,” he said. “If allocations are determined by percent of population vaccinated further down the priority list, it’s possible we may look similar to most counties most of the way through as they catch up.”
Briggs said efforts to coordinate distribution through medical facilities, as well as pharmacies, puts the county in a position to administer doses rapidly as they are received, and he hopes to see allocations increase on the federal and state levels.
“We plan to offer vaccines to as many residents as we can as quickly as possible, but this is dependent on the supply we receive,” he said, adding that he is confident that the doses local entities have received are already in arms and reported.