Local police and fire personnel began receiving the coronavirus vaccine this week under vaccination plans being rolled out by Scott County Public Health.
Belle Plaine’s city hall served as the county health department’s first vaccine clinic Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday, Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said more than 82,000 vaccines have been administered so far to Minnesotans.
Scott County Public Health is currently receiving 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine each week, according to Scott County Public Health Director Lisa Brodsky. Two shipments were received before year’s end bringing the county’s current total number of doses received to 600.
“Mission-critical” staff responding to the pandemic are being offered the vaccine first, according to Brodsky.
She said the county health department began administering vaccines Dec. 30, beginning with community vaccinators, and the first phase of vaccine rollout being conducted by the local health department will be completed this week.
Hospital staff, vaccinators and testers and those living and working at skilled-nursing facilities were the first in Minnesota to be offered the vaccine.
The first phase also includes local police and fire personnel and staff working at unaffiliated clinics or free-standing dialysis centers, Brodsky said.
Those eligible to receive the vaccine from the county will be able to choose between the three clinics this week, and one back-up clinic to be hosted next week.
With the initial phase complete, the county health department will shift its focus to group homes, home care agencies, assisted living facilities, adult foster care and local correctional facilities.
However, the move into the second phase, referred to as 1b, won’t happen locally until the green light from the state health department, which currently expects to release further guidance mid-January.
“What we are currently working on is gathering lists of these individuals, making connections with them and really identifying if they have access to the vaccine elsewhere,” Brodsky told the Scott County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.
Assisted livings, for example, might’ve already made a connection to receive the vaccine through other programs and won’t need the county’s assistance.
“Local public health’s role is to fill in that gap if they are not currently covered,” Brodsky said.
The subsequent phase of the local rollout plan will include essential workers, including teachers and childcare staff, and other types of care providers, such as mental health professionals and dentists.
Local vaccination plans picked up speed across the metro this week.
Nurses with the City of Bloomington’s Public Health Division began vaccinating first responders Monday, the city announced.
The city health department’s vaccine program is available to approximately 500 eligible emergency medical responders across Bloomington, Richfield and Edina.
“With two COVID-19 vaccines now rolling out, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Nick Kelley, the city’s acting public health administrator, said in a statement. “Yet, due to initially limited supplies, it will be months before every person in our community who wants the vaccine can get it.”
In Scott County, Brodsky said she hopes the rate of shipments increases beyond 300 doses per week because vaccinating large groups, such as teachers, will otherwise take a long time to complete.
However, it’s unknown when the county will see an increase to its allocation.
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Freshman lawmakers representing Savage celebrated their first day in office Tuesday.
The Minnesota Legislature convened for the first day of the regular session Jan. 5, and State Sen. Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville, and Rep. Jess Hanson, DFL-Savage, officially took office.
Port defeated longtime incumbent Sen. Dan Hall in the race for Minnesota Senate District 56 in November, and Hanson won the House District 56A race against Republican Pam Myhra after former Rep. Hunter Cantrell, elected as a freshman in 2018, announced he wouldn’t seek re-election.
“Thank you to District 56 for your trust and and support,” Port posted on Facebook. “I look forward to serving our communities and working with you to build the future worthy of us. It’s an honor to be your senator.”
Port will serve on finance and policy committees for the commerce and consumer protection division and housing divisions. She’s also assigned to the technology and reform policy committee, and will serve as Minority Leader for metro governance.
“All of these committees will give us an opportunity to fight for a fair, just, abundant vision for Minnesota that values and includes us all,” Port wrote.
Hanson will serve on the finance and policy committees for the agriculture, higher education and human services divisions. Her fourth committee assignment is the Behavioral Health Policy Division.
“The feelings I’m having are surreal,” Hanson posted to Facebook. “This is my dream job. The opportunity to serve my community and my beloved home state in this capacity invokes indescribable feelings.”
“I’m blessed to have been entrusted with this responsibility,” she continued. “As I sit in my office today, I am thinking of everyone who helped me get here and what they sent me here to do. I’m more than ready to get to work, and I’m so honored to have amazing people by my side along the way.”