Essentia Health continues to work with state departments of health in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for members of the general public, according to a Jan. 14 news release.

“Notification to groups will occur once there is appointment availability. The most recent update from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is the flexibility to begin vaccinating anyone ages 65 and older if we have more vaccines than needed to complete Phase 1a. While we can’t wait to begin administering the vaccine broadly within the communities we serve, supplies currently are limited. We’ll continue to follow guidelines from our state departments of health, which determine vaccination priority,” said the release.

Essentia patients are encouraged to sign up for MyChart, which will be the primary method of notification. Vaccinations can be scheduled through MyChart.

To register, visit EssentiaHealth.org and click on the “MyChart” button in the upper right-hand corner, then click “sign up.” There is also a MyChart app for smart devices.

Additionally, Essentia Health will be sending a voice message to patients’ preferred phone number in their medical record. Besides using MyChart, individuals will be able to call to schedule appointments, once they are available. Essentia Health recommends using MyChart to schedule appointments due to anticipated lengthy wait times by phone.

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The COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses, either 21 or 28 days apart, depending on the manufacturer.

Both vaccines currently available to Essentia Health — ones from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — were found to have effectiveness rates of about 95 percent. They have proven to be safe, as well. Minimal side effects have included headaches, fatigue and injection-site pain.

Questions or concerns about the vaccine can be answered by primary care providers. Those with a history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines or medications should also contact their primary care provider.

Additional information about the COVID-19 vaccine can be found by visiting EssentiaHealth.org and clicking on the “vaccine distribution” link at the top of the page.