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County’s vaccination pace slows; appointments harder to fill

COVID-19 vaccination appointments are getting harder to fill in Freeborn County as the rush for vaccine has slowed, said Freeborn County Public Health Director Sue Yost.

Yost said during the last two weeks Public Health has not been able to get all of its appointments filled in its vaccine clinics or they are seeing more people cancel their appointments. People are either deciding to only get one dose or have been able to get in at another location faster than they could with the county.

She said last week, the county had 70 doses left over, and this week it had 20 doses left over.

Public Health works diligently to find people for appointments for all open vials but has held over unopened vaccine for the following week. The county has primarily administered the Moderna vaccine, but earlier in the year administered some of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In the coming weeks, she said the challenge will be in reaching out to those who have not yet been vaccinated and educating them.

“Getting vaccinated is going to help keep you safe and your loved ones,” Yost said.

Public Health staff are also starting smaller vaccine clinics, in which Public Health staff can come directly to groups of at least 10 people and administer their vaccines.

“If it’s a business, an apartment building, club, church — we’ll come to them and do a mini clinic there,” she said.

Youth ages 16 and 17 will need to sign up for their vaccinations through Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, as the county does not have any of the Pfizer vaccine.

She said so far 50% of adults in Freeborn County have received at least one dose of vaccine. She said numbers could vary slightly as some may have driven to Iowa and would not be included in the Minnesota immunization registry. The number vaccinated is lower than other counties in southeastern Minnesota.

For now, Yost said, the county will continue hosting vaccine clinics at the Albert Lea Armory every Wednesday at least through the end of the month. Though demand is down, people are still asked to call to set up an appointment.

COVID-19 testing is also still taking place at the Armory from noon to 6 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Case update

Freeborn County reported eight new COVID-19 cases on Friday and has now had 3,365 cumulative cases. Of that number, 68 are considered active cases.

The new cases included one person 4 or under, two people 5 to 9, one person between 10 and 14, three people in their 40s and one person in their 60s.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 12,515 people in Freeborn County had received at least one vaccine dose as of Wednesday, and 10,313 have received the completed series.

The following is an update on other area counties on Friday:

• Faribault County: one new lab-confirmed case; 1,484 cumulative cases; 5,491 with at least one vaccine dose, 4,645 with the completed series

• Mower County: 13 new lab-confirmed cases; 4,572 cumulative cases; 17,488 people with at least one vaccine dose, 14,509 with the completed series

• Steele County: 14 new lab-confirmed cases, two new probable cases; one new death; 3,769 cumulative cases; 15,073 with at least one vaccine dose, 11,219 with the completed series

• Waseca County: five new lab-confirmed cases; 2,344 cumulative cases; 7,340 with at least one dose, 5,691 with the completed series