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Public health supervisor shares update on vaccine distribution in Cook County

There was one additional case of COVID-19 reported in Cook County over the weekend, bringing the total to 114 since the start of the pandemic. There have been five new cases reported in the past 10 days locally, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

There remain no deaths reported in Cook County since the onset of the pandemic.

Cook County Public Health announced Jan. 18 that 372 county residents, approximately 7 percent of the county’s population, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, as compared to 3.5 percent statewide.

That being the case, there is a supply vs. demand issue occurring with the vaccine in Cook County, according to Public Health Supervisor and Emergency Operations Center Co-Incident Commander Grace Grinager. In short, more people want to get vaccinated, and are eligible to get vaccinated, than the county has in its stock to administer vaccines locally. And while this is likely frustrating for residents who are anxious to get vaccinated, this situation is not unusual across Minnesota. There are only so many vaccines being distributed across the state at this time, Grinager said during an update on WTIP Jan. 18, combined with shifting guidance from the state and federal recommendations for who should be eligible to get the vaccines that are available.

On Jan. 14, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced guidance for health departments and providers to begin vaccinating all residents over the age of 65. The ability to expand vaccination is dependent on the amount of vaccine that the county receives from the federal government via MDH.

“Cook County is still working through group 1A, including hospital staff, first responders and other health care workers,” Grinager said.

Public Health will continue to refer to MDH guidelines in determining vaccination priority once group 1A vaccinations are complete. As we are creating our comprehensive plan for expanding vaccination, we also expect to be able to give the second dose of the vaccine 21 or 28 days later.

“We are looking forward to being able to expand the group of Cook County community members whom we are able to vaccinate in the coming weeks,” Grinager said. “We urge patience on the part of residents who are looking forward to receiving their vaccine. Please be assured that we are working with our healthcare partners locally to increase the volume of people we are able to vaccinate as the supply of vaccine increases.”

Cook County Public Health and healthcare officials encourage residents with questions about vaccine distribution to note:

Public Health is not gathering contact information from the over-65 general population at this time. There is no “list” of residents who would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
Cook County Public Health will issue an updated media release when it is able to offer the vaccine to a broader group of county residents
Residents can visit the Cook County COVID-19 hub site for current information on vaccine distribution at www.cookcountycovid19.org
Anyone with questions can contact the Cook County COVID-19 hotline/email with vaccine related questions
To hear the interview with Grinager and WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs from Jan. 18, listen to the audio below.