COVID-19 vaccinations have made their way to Eden Prairie, even as issues related to the roll-out and supplies persist.
Residents and employees of long-term care centers have been getting the shots, including last week at Elim Shores, where 104 residents, staff and essential family members were vaccinated, and a few days earlier at Prairie Bluffs Senior Living, where 110 people were vaccinated.
Also receiving shots were police officers, firefighters and paramedics in Eden Prairie through a special vaccination event held the first two weeks of January at Eden Prairie High School.
All of these first-dose vaccinations were Phase 1A of Minnesota’s staged approach, starting with those most vulnerable to COVID-19, including health-care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
A second shot must follow over the coming weeks. For the first responders that were vaccinated at EPHS, that means a follow-up scheduled the last few days of January and into the first week of February, said Eden Prairie Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Management Scott Gerber.
Elim Shores will host the second round of shots on Feb. 9, according to Chris Orr, housing director. And, Prairie Bluffs has scheduled its second shots for Feb. 11.
Kathy Lecy, a former Bloomington resident who was the first resident of Prairie Bluffs when it opened in 2019, was glad to get her vaccination. “It’s been months and months of being cooped up; of not being able to go out and see friends,” she said.
She’s been allowed two family visitors, designated as essential caregivers, and has ventured out for groceries and other necessities. “But of course no lunches or dinners with friends,” she said. “That’s been hard. You do feel sort of isolated.”
She’s looking forward to gathering again with close acquaintances from high school. And, line dancing to country western music – something she’s been doing for close to 32 years.
Meanwhile, the state on Tuesday also launched nine pilot sites across Minnesota – including Brooklyn Center in the metro area – that are expanding the vaccination roll-out by giving shots to people age 65 and older, educators, school staff, and child-care workers who have appointments. Details are on the state’s “Find My Vaccine” web page, https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine/.
But Gov. Tim Walz also noted the limitations of that pilot expansion, which makes about 1 million more people eligible for a few thousand available doses. The state said that Minnesota is currently receiving 60,000 doses of vaccine per week. With a state population of 5.6 million, that’s 1 percent of the supply needed, meaning people will need to remain patient as more vaccine arrives in the weeks and months ahead.
At the same time, those who have access to the vaccine need to turn out in high numbers. Fire Chief Gerber said about 70 percent of Eden Prairie firefighters were vaccinated in the first round of shots to first responders earlier this month. Some of those who were not vaccinated, he said, likely had work conflicts. Ninety-five of the department’s 106 firefighters are volunteer, paid-on-call personnel who have other jobs. A few may still be quarantined because they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, he said.
November was probably the worst in terms of firefighters that were unavailable for service, he said, but at its peak COVID-19 never sidelined more than about 15 people. “It’s never been an impact on service at all,” he said.