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SWHHS administers 2,500 doses; more than 600 receive both doses

Photo by Deb Gau Signs pointed the way to COVID vaccination clinics organized by Avera Marshall at its Bruce Street campus earlier this month. Local health providers have helped distribute hundreds of vaccine doses to area residents.

MARSHALL — Area health care providers are continuing to distribute COVID-19 vaccine to essential workers and high-risk populations, as Minnesota passes the one-million mark for vaccine doses given.

While local vaccination efforts don’t make up a large portion of those total doses, hundreds of people in the six-county region have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, providers said.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported Friday that 1,016,210 vaccine doses have been administered. A total of 728,081 Minnesotans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 286,543 had received both doses.

In the region around Marshall, providers including area hospitals, pharmacies and public health organizations have administered hundreds of doses of COVID-19 vaccine to people in vulnerable populations. Southwest Health and Human Services has administered more than 2,500 doses of the vaccine in its service area, said SWHHS public health director Carol Biren. More than 600 people have received both doses of the vaccine, she said.

SWHHS has been holding vaccination clinics for emergency responders, staff and residents at long-term care facilities, and other high priority groups in Lincoln, Lyon, Redwood, Pipestone, Murray and Rock Counties. Biren said SWHHS is getting “close to done” administering vaccines at area nursing homes, and vaccinations for teachers and child care providers will continue over the next several weeks.

Other area providers have focused on administering vaccines to residents age 65 and older, as well as medical and education workers. Avera Marshall has held three days of community COVID vaccination clinics at its Carlson Street campus, and vaccinated a total of 735 people in that time, said Avera Marshall communications partner Stacy Neubeck. Those 735 people are scheduled to receive their second doses of vaccine in early March, Neubeck said.

Some area pharmacies have also begun providing COVID-19 vaccinations. GuidePoint Pharmacy in Marshall was one such location selected by the state to distribute vaccines. So far, around 550 people have received COVID-19 vaccines through the Marshall GuidePoint location, said pharmacist Sandy Murphy. A few of those people have received their second dose of the vaccine so far, Murphy said.

Marshall was also the site of two large community vaccination clinics, as part of a state pilot program launched in January. A total of 1,155 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered at the first community event alone, but not all of the people receiving shots were local residents.

Gov. Tim Walz said Friday that Minnesota is trying to make sure COVID vaccines are having the most impact, by vaccinating people at a greater risk of severe illness and death if they get COVID-19. That includes residents of long-term care facilities, as well as people age 65 and older. Health care workers, educators and child care providers are also eligible for the vaccine.

“We have a long way to go to ensure every Minnesotan has the opportunity to get their shot. But our most vulnerable relatives, friends, and neighbors are receiving the protection for which they’ve waited so long,” Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan said. “We are making progress and moving forward.”

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