St. Louis County Public Health is in the process of ensuring that no one currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine has been inadvertently overlooked.
Those currently eligible to receive the vaccine are people categorized under the state's Phase 1a first and second priority groups, according to a news release from the county.
Phase 1a has three priority groups. Those who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine include EMS-certified personnel, urgent care and dialysis center staff as well as residents and staff of skilled nursing, long-term care and assisted living facilities.
Employers of any of these people may have already made vaccine administration arrangements with a hospital or pharmacy, as public health is just one of three systems administering vaccines.
Any employer who has staff qualified to receive vaccines under Phase 1a and has not been contacted by one of the three systems is urged to register at stlouiscountymn.gov/vaccineregistration.
"We are working through these (Phase 1a) priority groups as quickly as we can and want to ensure that no one is inadvertently overlooked," St. Louis County Public Health Division Director Amy Westbrook said in the news release.
St. Louis County has started gathering information for organizations with people eligible to receive vaccines under the third priority group of Phase 1a.
"This will allow for faster notification and scheduling when the next phase of vaccinations can begin," the release said.
People who fall under the Phase 1a third priority include staff at these organizations who are unable to work from home:
- Adult foster care
- Ambulatory clinics
- Community residential settings
- Correctional settings
- Dental offices
- Emergency shelters
- Funeral homes
- Group homes
- At-home health care
- Intermediate care facilities
- Mental and behavioral health settings
- Public health clinics
- Residential care facilities
EMS-certified personnel not included in the first priority group and school nurses also land in the third priority category.
St. Louis County is in its third week of administering vaccines. The first wave of people vaccinated Dec. 24 are scheduled to receive their second dose Jan. 21.
In a St. Louis County Board meeting Tuesday, Westbrook said the county does not yet know when it will have received enough vaccines to move on to the Phase 1b of vaccines. The county has not yet started a registration process or waiting list for people in that category.
The Minnesota Department of Health expects to have guidance available to share on the Phase 1b priority group next week.
The county as a whole — public health, hospitals and pharmacies — have received 7,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Public health has administered 800 of its 1,000 doses to date. Another 500 doses is coming soon.
The county will begin a mobile testing and vaccination program soon, Westbrook said, in an effort to expand its reach.
“We’re hoping to operationalize those starting next week,” she said.
St. Louis County is scheduled to put out a call for volunteers this week.
“Staffing is the biggest issue we’re seeing across the state, just the volume of available people to get shots in (other people’s) arms is the biggest need,” Westbrook said.
Reporter Brady Slater contributed to this story.