MLHS vaccine update

February 4, 2021

“I know people are frustrated, and we are frustrated too, but with the rate at which information is changing we are extremely limited on what we can do,” said Jennifer McDonnell, Mille Lacs Health System Pharmacy Manager and Vaccination Taskforce Coordinator. The health system has been flooded with calls, and patients are showing up in the clinic, asking to be put on a list for vaccines.

Given the fact that allocations from the federal government to Minnesota remain insufficient to meet the very high demand for the vaccine, MLHS asks patients to be understanding. There is no waiting list at MLHS and walk-ins will not be vaccinated. When, and if, MLHS does get an allocation of vaccine, they will choose patients from a randomized list of those 65+ who have seen a clinician at the facility within the last two years.

MLHS has been assisting county public health with their efforts to vaccinate people who were in the 1a category of healthcare workers, front line workers, and teachers. At an offsite location, public health and MLHS shared resources to vaccinate people in this group. The few remaining open appointments where filled with MLHS patients 65+ selected from a randomized list. MLHS has used all of its allocations to fully vaccinate staff, nursing home and assisted living residents. What was remaining was used to vaccinate healthcare workers in the county with their first doses through the local public health clinics.

Currently, MLHS is part of the governor’s plan of distribution that allocates vaccine on a lottery-type basis to smaller facilities. “We have none this week and as of 2/2/21 it looks like we will not get doses for next week either,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell goes on to explain that other facilities in neighboring counties were able to give many more doses to patients because their public health did not need assistance. Over 50 percent of MLHS’s allocation was shared with public health so that people like firefighters, police, and teachers could get their vaccinations.

Mille Lacs County, however, has announced that it will begin a vaccine wait list. Those 65+ are asked to go to its website, to complete a survey. People will be notified when an upcoming vaccine clinic has openings. Only those that live in and/or work in Mille Lacs County will be notified of an upcoming clinic.

MLHS updates its pre-recorded Vaccine Line whenever new information can be shared. That number is 320-532-2697. In the meantime, McDonnell asks that patients really leave the phone lines open for those who are ill and need medical care.