COVID-19 vaccine is coming to Otter Tail County. The first doses of COVID-19 vaccination have been sent to states, with Minnesota receiving their first allocation of vaccine just this week.  Over the coming weeks, Otter Tail County is expected to receive both the Pfizer vaccine and, upon emergency use authorization approval, the Moderna vaccine. 

Local Health Care Partners and Otter Tail County Public Health will carry out distribution plans that have been months in the making. Following the guidance of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP), and subsequent MDH recommendations and guidance, priority populations will be phased in to receive the first available doses of COVID-19 vaccine. 

The first priority population, group 1a, to receive the vaccine will be those health care personnel who work directly with COVID-19 patients, staff and residents in skilled nursing facilities, emergency medical services personnel who provide direct patient care, COVID-19 community vaccinators, and those who work at community COVID-19 testing facilities.

Beyond the 1a priority group, is group 1b, which will include an expansion of those not included in the first group. This includes those living and working in assisted care facilities, other direct patient care providers in hospitals and clinics including dialysis centers and urgent care clinics.

The third phase, group 1c, will include all remaining health care personnel that work in hospitals, ambulatory and outpatient settings, home health settings, emergency shelters, long term care facilities, dental offices, pharmacies, public health clinics, mental/behavioral health settings, correctional settings, group homes.  In addition, adult residents living in many residential settings that service those at risk will be eligible for vaccine.

Is a COVID-19 vaccine necessary? Yes. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 will be one of the best ways to protect our communities and eliminate the virus. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 will get us closer to the end of the pandemic.  And by stopping the spread of COVID-19, we can keep businesses and schools open, and return to doing more of the things we enjoy together.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?  Yes.  A safe and effective vaccine is the top priority.  While vaccine development was accelerated due to the pandemic, it did not impact important safety steps.  There are long standing systems in place to ensure that all vaccines are as safe as possible.

Until COVID-19 vaccine is widely available, Public Heath asks that everyone, including those who have been vaccinated, to continue to practice prevention measures like wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding gathering with those outside of your household. 

For more information, please go to the CDC or Minnesota Department of Health website.  Or call Otter Tail County Public Health at 218-998-8320.  You can also visit us at ottertailcountymn.us.

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