Essentia Health expresses confidence current timelines can still be met, despite vaccination availability concerns

Updated: January 15, 2021 10:08 PM
Created: January 15, 2021 09:05 PM

Despite recent indications that Minnesota will be receiving less doses of the COVID-19 vaccine than originally thought in the short term, Dr. Richard Vetter, the chief medical officer of Essentia West, believes his healthcare organization is prepared to deal with whatever they get.

"We really have set up our structures to be able to flex up and down depending on the amount of vaccine that we're given," said Vetter, "We've given over 12,000 doses within Essentia including many second doses already."

Dr. Vetter says that those who received their first dose of the vaccine shouldn’t panic if they can’t get their second in exactly the recommended time if shortages occur.

"We don't recommend that you get it early, but you can get it late and hopefully it will have the same efficacy, because, again, it’s just to generate that immune response and get your body to have that memory to the vaccine," said Vetter. 

He added that even one dose of the vaccine significantly increases someone’s immunity and that they should be fine if they don’t get their second dose until a week or ten days after they were supposed to. Though, he doesn’t anticipate anyone who got their first shot through Essentia not getting their second in the recommended time window.

Dr. Vetter also expressed optimism with Essentia meeting its current vaccination timeline, despite uncertainty with exactly how many additional doses they can expect in the future.

"We're just wrapping up our phase 1A vaccines and we'll complete that next week. Then we're going to be moving into phase 1B which will be people outside of healthcare workers and long term care residents, moving into the general population starting with those over age 65."

Increased guidance for who exactly will make up the next phase will be provided by Gov. Walz early next week, he said Friday in a press conference.

Once the next phase does open up, Vetter said those who are part of it can sign up for an appointment to get vaccinated directly on Essentia’s website.


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