In December 2020, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines were granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, the COVID-19 vaccination campaign has begun in Minnesota for the first priority groups which are front line healthcare workers and Long-Term Care residents and staff.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines were rigorously tested and evaluated by the FDA, Center for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Early results from both clinical studies show the vaccines are 95% effective at preventing people from getting sick with COVID-19.
The vaccines use RNA, or mRNA technology. Instead of exposing the body to a weakened version of COVID-19, mRNA vaccines send cells a tiny genetic message, or instructions for the body to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19, and it does not interact with human DNA, because it never enters the nucleus of the cell. And our cells then dispose of the mRNA just like they do with the usual mRNA in our cells.
The vaccine gives our cells the ability to make what’s called a ‘spike protein.’ This protein is on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. The immune system recognizes the protein as foreign and begins making antibodies, which teaches the body to protect against future COVID-19 infection.
Minnesota was allocated 174,750 doses. The goal for the first, limited doses of COVID-19 vaccine is to protect those who are exposed to COVID-19 every day because of what they do, who they care for, or where they live. In addition, we are seeing high rates of severe disease in nursing home residents and other congregate settings where older adults live.
Which is why the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine are being given to people working in health care settings and people who live and work in long-term care facilities. They do not have the option of remaining home and separating themselves from others. Other groups that will get the early vaccine doses include frontline essential workers, adults 65 years and older, people with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers.
On December 21, 2020, Johnson Memorial Health Services (JMHS) received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccination and were able to vaccinate 70 staff members including all seven medical providers. JMHS Long-Term Care residents, tenants and staff are scheduled to receive their first of the two vaccinations on January 14, 2021.
As of today, we do not know yet when the next group of people (Phase 1b) will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Minnesota. This will depend on how much vaccine the manufacturers are able to make and send out, and how many people get vaccinated in the first priority groups. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as large quantities of vaccine are available. As vaccine supply increases but remains limited, the ACIP will expand the groups recommended for vaccination.
Below are the phasing groups for Minnesota listed in greater detail. If you would like to be placed on the waiting list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact your JMHS nurse at 320-769-4393.
- Healthcare Personnel include all paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.
- Long-Term Care Facility Residents include adults who reside in facilities that provide a range of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently.
- Frontline essential workers such as fire fighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, United States 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.)
- People aged 75 years and older because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. People aged 75 years and older who are also residents of long-term care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1a.
- People aged 65—74 years because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. People aged 65—74 years who are also residents of long-term care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1a.
- People aged 16—64 years with underlying medical conditions which increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19.
- Other essential workers, such as people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety, and public health.