COVID vaccine

Third time's the charm, right?

Available vaccinations for school educators and staff were limited during the first week of COVID-19 rollouts Jan. 18 — between six to 21 among local school districts.

The second week event, Jan. 28-30, saw 15,000 vaccines administered at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in downtown St. Paul. The pre-registration process though was marred by confusion and misuse.

School districts were instructed to share log-in information with a certain amount of staff at a designated time. Some released the information too soon, some too late. Some staff did not receive it. Others shared the single log-in password with others.

Now, the state of Minnesota and Department of Health are unveiling a third set of plans. Selected school staff and child care workers will have directed to a state vaccination site in Minneapolis, pharmacies in Brainerd, St. Cloud and Rochester or 35 local public health offices statewide.

"Staff in education and child care settings will be contacted directly if selected to sign up for appointments at state site or community pharmacy this week. Local public health departments will partner directly with school and child care programs," a state release said.

Last week's vaccination site in St. Paul drew jeers from some, and praise from others.

Celi Haga of Eastern Carver County Schools said while the state did not report back the exact number of doses its allotted 471 staff members were eligible to receive, she does believe the number is high.

"We have no way of tracking, but anecdotally it sounds like many of the staff who got the link were able to schedule their appointments. It sounds like based on what I'm reading from the media that those who were put on the waiting list are the priority this week," Haga said.

Emily Nebben of Victoria called the process in St. Paul a "well-oiled machine."

"The National Guard and nurses giving vaccines were phenomenal!" Nebben, who works in Bloomington Schools, said on the Chaska Herald Facebook page. "I am sad that others gave out employee specific codes and mucked it up for others who were supposed to get their vaccine. I guess this type of human interference is always a risk they take in a process like this."

Chris Commers, president of the Chaska Education Association, said the desire to be vaccinated is extremely high among teachers.

"It reflects our constant efforts to provide safe, healthy, and effective learning environments for students and all educators. We're grateful for Eastern Carver County Schools and the state of Minnesota's efforts to vaccinate all educators. We regret the relative scarcity of the vaccine and look forward to the day when all who desire to be vaccinated may do so."

State officials are taking over the registration process starting this week. All staff who want the vaccine are asked to sign up with the state.

"They have not indicated how that process will work or what the timeline will be. Sounds like more changes may be announced later today but waiting to see what impacts that I'll have for schools," Haga said.

NEW PROCESS FOR SENIORS, TOO

If you were one of the 10,000 or so lucky 65-and-over vaccine winners last week, you'll be headed back to one of the 10 pilot sites across the state of Minnesota, including metro locations in Brooklyn Center and Blaine, and St. Paul for educators.

If you are one of the 215,000 or so seniors still waiting in the lottery system for the vaccine, the process has changed.

Minnesota will have 35,000 COVID vaccine doses for seniors this week. There will be 9,425 total appointments made at two new community sites in Minneapolis and Duluth. The rest are headed to more than 100 clinics and hospitals in the state.

A third community site will open next week in southern Minnesota.

The 220,000 seniors who were put on the waiting list during last week’s lottery will remain on the list for one of the new permanent community sites.

The 10 sites that were open the past two weeks will only be available beginning Feb. 11 for second doses only for people who got first doses there.

New local clinic and hospital vaccination sites include North Memorial Hospital in Minnetonka, Hennepin Healthcare System in Richfield and M Health Fairview in Bloomington.

All vaccinations are by appointment only, and each provider manages its own schedules and appointments. Not all providers are offering appointments to people in all priority groups. Please contact providers to confirm vaccination location and hours, that they have vaccine doses and appointments available, and that you are eligible for vaccination at that site.

As the federal government distributes additional vaccine doses, new providers and locations will be added.

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