PARK RAPIDS, MN (December 21, 2020) Local vaccination efforts against COVID-19 have begun, bringing with it a sense of optimism and hope for our community.
On Monday afternoon, Dec. 21, CHI St. Joseph’s Health began vaccinating their frontline health care workers. The first dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived early in the morning from the designated hub, Sanford Health in Bemidji. “It is an extraordinary undertaking and what we’ve all been working so hard for these last months – to reach the turning point in the pandemic,” said Ben Koppelman, President of CHI St. Joseph’s Health. The first vaccine allocations are specifically targeted for healthcare workers, including EMS, and long-term care.
“This is a historical time and major milestone in our battle against COVID-19,” said Deb Haagenson, Vice President of Patient Care. More than 150 CHI St. Joseph’s Health employees have signed up to be vaccinated throughout the week.
A clinical interdisciplinary group at St. Joseph’s played a vital role in the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine coordination and training. Vaccinating the health care workforce is the first step in fighting this virus and protecting frontline workers and patients.
John Lageson, MD, Hospitalist and Chief of Staff at CHI St. Joseph’s Health says “I am excited to receive the vaccine as one way I can protect myself, my family and our patients. This is a turning point…a beginning of an end.”
Per Community Health Director Marlee Morrison, “vaccine is being distributed with guidance on who will receive the initial doses. As the Hubbard County public health agent we are coordinating with the hospital, our regional partners, and the state to ensure that the vaccine is distributed appropriately as we move ahead in this process. “
It remains important that the public continue to follow MDH and CDC guidelines for the pandemic – wash your hands regularly, wear face coverings in public, stay home when you are sick, and maintain social distance. These measures, in combination with the vaccine, will help our community recover from the pandemic.