Deb Purfeerst, Rice County Public Health Director told KDHL AM Minnesota listeners today she understands their frustration with the slow availability of COVID-19 vaccinations.

I asked her if the apparent fragmenting of doses was wise. Currently, hospitals, clinics are getting dosages along with public health services.  I asked if it would have been better for the county public health departments to oversee the administering of vaccinations.

Purfeerst said, "I think we all have a role to play in it.  I think initially what we've seen though is the vaccination that's been distributed has been in varying amounts to those different providers so initially, it is looking different. I know that is very frustrating.  I think particularly for our 65 and older population.  We do receive a lot of calls from that population. I can't vaccinate until I have the vaccine in our refrigerators"

"Our private health care providers also have not yet received the vaccine.  So most  of our private health care providers are developing systems to let their patients know when they can make an appointment for a vaccine."

Purfeerst stated, "The  vaccine provided by the state has been so limited."

Purfeerst indicated they are however on track to get Phase 1a priorities one, two, and three completed soon.  "We still are hoping that by the end of January we will see that completed and then we would move on to much larger groups.  Again if we have vaccine supplies."

The Rice County Public Health Director says the state vaccine distribution website shows Rice County with 3.1 percent of the population receiving at least one dose of the current two-dose vaccine.  She says smaller counties with fewer long term care facilities and group homes might be able to innoculate quicker.

Purfeerst said there are a couple of companies trying to get Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for vaccines and she believes at least one of them is a single-dose vaccine.

"That will significantly speed things along too because right now we are being instructed to hold those second doses for the second dose.  You know it just takes twice as long when you're giving out two doses versus one dose and I can be done."

Realizing Purfeerst does not have a crystal ball or any control over vaccine supplies I asked if she had any idea when Rice County would be completing vaccinations.  She replied, "Early on the predictions were it would be late spring, early summer before we would see the majority of the population vaccinated.  I do think it's good to remember that all along they have been predicting it will be late spring, early summer."

Listen to the entire interview with Rice County Public Health Department Director Deb Purfeerst in the AM Minnesota podcast episode below:

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