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Swift: ‘You should take whatever vaccine is available’

As rules start to relax along the COVID-19 front, Mayo Clinic, state and local officials have begun to refine how that will look for local communities.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control refined its own recommendations to allow those that have vaccines to now join in small groups without having to wear masks, among other things.

Vaccines are also seeing an increase as state and federal guidelines are making it possible for more people to become vaccinated as well as more institutions that can give the vaccines.

In a news conference Wednesday, Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Workgroup Co-chair Melanie Swift reported that a large majority of Mayo employees in the upper Midwest have been vaccinated along with 96,000 patients of Mayo who are not staff.

The accelerated timeline for vaccination, which could see shots for all people by late April, includes two new phases, including people with specific underlying health conditions, and people based on where they work, including food processing plants like Hormel Foods and Quality Pork Processor.

During a Mower County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Crystal Peterson, director of Health and Human Services in Mower County, said both plants will be given 500 doses each of the two-shot Moderna vaccine next week.

However, this also means a lot more people than the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. That’s where other entities capable of delivering the vaccine will help significantly.

“A lot of these people will be able to be vaccinated at multiple outlets as well,” Swift said. “There are more and more opportunities to receive vaccines. That’s great. Get vaccinated as quickly as you can and whatever opportunity you can get it.”

Swift said that Mayo estimates that it will take around a month to get through this next group of people, which meets the state’s timeline.

However, Swift also spoke to concerns about how some are hesitating when it comes to some of the vaccines. She pointed out that time is a factor.

“You should take whatever vaccine is available,” Swift said. “We are in a race against the virus at this point.”

This advice includes Mayo Clinic Health System sites, including Austin and Albert Lea. Swift reported that these sites are continuing to get doses on a regular basis as they become available.

“When we receive our allocation weekly, we divide for Minnesota southwest and southeast sites as well as Rochester,” she said. “It’s allocated every week dependent on the population at these sites. It’s moving at slightly different paces depending on how quickly they can get through each tier.”