Horizon Public Health reports there has been an "overwhelming interest" in the COVID-19 vaccine in its service area, including Douglas County.

"Our agency has been receiving numerous phone calls and emails from the public wondering who can get the vaccine, when can I get the vaccine, and how will I be notified?" said Ann Stehn, administrator of Horizon Public Health. "This is a historic time, and the light at the end of the tunnel is in view. We greatly appreciate the communities’ patience and support as we work through this process."

Horizon Public Health has received shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from the Minnesota Department of Health, while the initial supply has been limited, Horizon has been following the distribution guidelines set by the Minnesota Department of Health, Stehn said.

During the final week of 2020 and the early weeks of 2021, Horizon has begun to administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to those eligible in Phase 1a which includes healthcare personnel, emergency medical services, vaccinators, COVID-19 testing staff and long-term care residents.

"These groups are being served through the combined efforts of our local hospitals, health care providers, pharmacies and local public health," Stehn said. "We are all working together to make sure we get the vaccine out as quickly as we can. The groups that are currently eligible are being contacted through their organization, which is why you are not hearing about where the general public can go to get a vaccine yet."

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All individuals who are interested in receiving a vaccination will be offered the vaccine when they become eligible based on the priority groups established by the Centers for Disease Control and the MDH, Stehn added.

Horizon Public Health is aware of the announced strategy change at the federal level on Jan. 12 and will continue to follow the Minnesota guidelines until further information and direction is available, according to Stehn.

"Horizon is working with our partners to vaccinate the initial groups as quickly as possible with the vaccine we have available, but recognizes that this process has presented many challenges," she said. "Everyone involved in the vaccination effort is anxious to be able to bring this important vaccine to the general public."

In the meantime, Horizon offered these things to know:

  • For the initial phases of the vaccine plan, individuals who are eligible have been notified by their organization.
  • Horizon Public Health has not been keeping a waiting list to receive the vaccine.
  • The federal government determines how many doses Minnesota will receive each week.
  • When Horizon Public Health is able to hold public clinics, it will get that information out through large media sources such as newspapers, radio, TV, social media, its website, flyers and more.
  • Be aware of scams. You should never be asked for credit card information in order to get the vaccine.
  • The federal government is covering the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe. They've been developed by companies in the United States and have met strict guidelines.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccine safety, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the Minnesota Department of Health vaccine website.

"It is going to take a while for the vaccine to be available to everyone who wants it" Stehn said. "In the meantime, be patient as priority groups are vaccinated, continue to practice preventative habits such as wearing a mask, staying six feet from others, washing your hands often and staying home if sick."

If you have additional questions about COVID-19 or how the COVID-19 vaccine being distributed in Minnesota, visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s website or Horizon Public Health’s website at horizonpublichealth.org.

Horizon Public Health serves communities in Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stevens and Traverse counties.

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