This past week the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) loosened some restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals.
MDH announced that people age 16 and over with rare conditions or disabilities that put them at higher risk, people age 16 and over with specific underlying medical conditions and people age 16 and over with TWO or more underlying medical conditions are now eligible to get the vaccine in Minnesota. Individuals 65+ that have not already received the vaccine are still considered a priority at this time.
The CDC said it was OK for fully vaccinated people to visit other fully vaccinated people and unvaccinated people from one household who are at low risk for severe illness from COVID-19 indoors and without wearing masks or avoiding close contact. You are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or 2 weeks after a single dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
However, vaccinated people should continue to take safety precautions, such as wearing a mask and avoiding close contact (within about 6 feet) with others, when they are:
- In public
- Visiting people who are unvaccinated and at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
- Visiting people who have an unvaccinated household member at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
- Visiting unvaccinated people from many households
Johnson Memorial Health Services is excited about the new guidance and expanded eligibility. From February 11 to March 4, there were 552 people vaccinated at Johnson Memorial Health Services. On March 16, these individuals will have received both doses of their vaccine. In addition, 100% of Assisted Living tenants and 99% of Care Center Residents have chosen to be vaccinated!
“The vaccine has been proven to prevent individuals from becoming seriously ill or dying due to COVID-19, said Stacey Lee, JMHS CEO. “The more people in the community who are protected from getting COVID-19 makes it harder for the disease to spread and helps contribute to herd immunity.”
Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are 94% effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus with symptoms. While in clinical trials the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was 66% effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus with symptoms and 85% effective at preventing severe disease with the virus.
According to data from the MDH website 32.3% of Lac qui Parle county residents are vaccinated. The US Census shows that 27.9% of the population in the county is 65+. Minnesota is among the State leaders for vaccinations with over 70% of eligible people already vaccinated with at least one dose. JMHS is hopeful that the percentage of vaccinated people continues to grow as eligibility expands.
While it is great that we can start to roll back COVID-19 restrictions please remember that if you’re fully vaccinated from COVID-19, your risk of getting COVID-19 might be low. But if you become infected, you might spread the virus to others even if you don’t have any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. There is so much we still don’t know about the virus, its new mutations, and the vaccine, so it’s important we continue to practice all COVID-19 safety precautions. As always, we will continue to keep you updated on both the virus and vaccine via our website, social media, the radio, and in the newspaper.