The Rice County Public Health Department reports the first COVID-19 vaccines have been administered.  Sheriff Troy Dunn told us he would be joined by Faribault Fire Chief Dustin Dienst and other first responders on Wednesday, December 30, 2020.

They were joined by 48 other people to receive their shots.  Public Health Director Deb Purfeerst says, "We are excited to finally move into the next phase of pandemic response, vaccinating!  Our first clinic ran very smoothly, a 100 percent show rate!"

Rice County Public Health says in a news release they, "received their first shipment of 200 doses of COVID-19 vaccine last week and began vaccinating individuals in the Phase 1A Priority Group."

"Vaccine is being rolled out in a phased approach.  With limited initial doses, some prioritizations needs to happen.  The state plan is to "immunize for impact."  Protecting the most vulnerable and exposed, including healthcare workers and long term care residents first.  Later, other priority groups will be phased in, including certain work groups, persons with high-risk medical conditions, and persons 65 and older."

"Those included in Phase 1a- First Priority tier include health care personnel working in dedicated COVID-19 units, ICU, and emergency departments; staff and residents working in skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes; emergency medical services personnel, COVID community testers, and COVID community vaccinators."

"Initially vaccines will be given in closed settings such as hospitals and long term care facilities.  Hospitals will vaccinate their staff, staff and residents in skilled nursing facilities in Rice County will be vaccinated by federally arranged pharmacy vendors, and local public health will be vaccinating individuals in the other groups."

"Second priority groupings in Phase 1a include all hospital personnel and providing direct patient services, staff and residents in assisted living facilities and group homes, and healthcare personnel in urgent care settings and dialysis centers.  Third priority groupings in Phase 1a include remaining health care personnel as well as adults in residential care facilities.  More information about the Minnesota Guidance for Allocating and Prioritizing COVID-19 Vaccine can be found on the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) website.

The Rice County Public Health news release goes on to say there is no "list" that people need to sign up for in order to get vaccinated.

Rice County has doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which indicate efficacy of 95%.  Both vaccines require two doses, given about a month apart.  "After the second does it will take about two weeks for your body to build up protection," MDH says.

Purfeerst says, "Vaccines can reduce deaths and serious illness but they are just one tool in the toolbox to conquer this pandemic.  We will need everyone, whether vaccinated or not, to continue to follow public health measures to help stop disease spread, including wearing a mask, physically distancing, washing your hand, following guidance fror isolation and quarantine, and staying home if you are sick."

The news release concludes with, "As a reminder, please do not call Rice County Public Health for an appointment to be vaccinated for COVID-19."

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