According to a news release, CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Health began vaccinating community members listed in the “Phase 1a” priority group this week after receiving a vaccine allocation from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

Forty first responders, along with other healthcare workers, received their first dose of the two-dose series on Jan. 5.

“Because the supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. is expected to be limited at first, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has provided phase recommendations to federal, state and local governments about who should be vaccinated first,” said the release. “The recommendations were made with these goals in mind: Decrease death and serious disease as much as possible; preserve functioning of society; and reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities.”

Per MDH guidelines, Phase 1a “includes hospital staff working with risk of exposure to COVID-19, long-term care facility staff and residents, emergency medical services personnel, and other health care personnel at risk of exposure to COVID-19, such first responders, clinics, dental offices, pharmacies and others at high risk.

The release stated that CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Health was allocated the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which can be stored at normal freezer temperatures, and when unopened, is stable in the refrigerator for up to 30 days.

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“Allocations are currently limited, so at this time vaccinations are only being offered to the priority Phase 1a group,” the release continued. “Community Health will continue to distribute vaccine to the Phase 1a priority group until approval for Phase 1b has been granted. The Moderna vaccine must be distributed in groups of 10, due to the availability of doses as well as storage and handling guidelines.”

The Phase 1b group includes frontline essential workers such as fire fighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers and those who work in the educational sector (teachers, support staff and daycare workers.), and people aged 75 years and older because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness and death from COVID-19.

CHI St. Joseph Community Health Director Marlee Morrison said, “Community Health is excited to be vaccinating the first priority groups in Hubbard County. This vaccine rollout is the first step towards ending this pandemic. We will expand availability of the vaccine based on guidance we are given from the CDC and the MDH. We look forward to the time in the coming weeks and months when the vaccine is more broadly available to the public. In the meantime, as the Hubbard County public health agent we are asking the residents of Hubbard County to continue taking precautions – wearing masks, staying home when sick, washing hands, and avoiding large gatherings.”

On Thursday, MDH reported that 91,174 doses of the vaccine for COVID-19 had been administered in the state. The 396,350 vaccine doses allocated to Minnesota so far are primarily being reserved for health care workers and nursing home residents, with plans in the works to identify other high-priority groups.

By the end of the month, health officials have said, Minnesota will have received enough doses of the vaccine to inoculate all members of the population segment currently being prioritized for inoculation.

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COVID statistics in lakes area

Following are the state-listed total number of positive COVID-19 cases in the lakes area, by county, as of Thursday, Jan. 7.

  • Becker: 2,747, up 8 cases since Jan. 6 (37 deaths).

  • Beltrami: 2,825, up 9 cases since Jan. 6 (44 deaths)

  • Cass: 1,941, up 12 cases since Jan. 6 (20 deaths)

  • Clearwater: 672, up 1 case since Jan. 6 (14 deaths).

  • Hubbard: 1,433, up 8 cases since Jan. 6 (37 deaths).

  • Mahnomen: 399, up 2 cases since Jan. 6 (7 deaths).

  • Wadena: 1,154, up 2 cases since Jan. 6 (12 deaths).

Matthew Guerry of Forum News Service contributed to this article.

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