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COVID-19 vaccines expected in Kandiyohi County soon

Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Director Jennie Lippert told the Kandiyohi County Board, and the public, that she expects the first round of COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in the county sometime this month. Vaccines will be given to health care workers and residents of nursing homes first.

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With a vaccine on the way, there is hope that in the next several months the COVID-19 pandemic will be under control. Kandiyohi County is waiting for its first shipment of vaccines, which will be given to health care workers, those living or working in skilled nursing facilities and some first responders. Erica Dischino file photo / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — The first vials of the COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use in the United States should arrive in Kandiyohi County in the next few weeks.

"Later this week, early next week, we don't know for sure," said Jennie Lippert, Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services director. Lippert updated the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners Tuesday on the COVID-19 situation in the county.

When the vaccine does arrive, the first shots will be going to health care workers, staff and residents of congregate care facilities and some first responders, as was outlined by the Minnesota Department of Health .

"We're targeting higher-risk individuals first and then working toward the rest of the community as vaccines become available," Lippert said. "There are still a lot of moving parts and changing pieces."

MDH will decide when to open vaccines to more people, probably first starting with essential workers and then those individuals with high-risk health conditions or those over the age of 65.

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Lippert said both the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna, which should be getting approved in the next several days, have undergone testing and meet rigorous safety standards.

"The vaccines will take two doses, about one month apart," Lippert said. It will then take another two weeks before a person is fully protected.

While both vaccines have shown over 90 percent effectiveness in keeping people from getting sick, there are still questions on whether vaccinated people can still infect others. Because of this, following health guidelines such as wearing masks in public, social distancing and washing hands will remain vital for the next several months.

"Ultimately all Minnesotans will have the opportunity to get vaccinated, but it won't be right away for everyone," Lippert said.

People do not have to be on any sort of waiting list to get a vaccine. Information will be released as it becomes available.

"When it comes available to the public, we will be sure to let people know how to get in touch," Lippert said.

While the vaccines do offer a bit of hope in the pandemic, infection, illnesses and deaths continue to increase, though at a slower rater than earlier in November. Over the course of the pandemic, the county has counted approximately 5,056 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19. There are currently about 556 active cases in the county.

"We are seeing lower numbers of new cases per day. We are seeing about 30 cases per day, when early on we were seeing about 113 a day," Lippert said. "So that has decreased which is very good."

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As the pandemic has dragged on the number of residents who have succumbed to the disease has increased as well. As of Tuesday, there were 48 reported deaths in the county. Twenty-eight of them were living in some sort of congregate care setting.

County Commissioner Corky Berg thanked Lippert and her staff for all the hard work they have been putting in this year as they deal with this once-in-a-century public health crisis.

"It has been a long year for everybody, but even longer for you and your group," Berg said.

Related: COVID-19 vaccine

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Jennie Lippert, Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Director

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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