Essentia, St. Luke’s Begin Vaccinating People Age 65 and Older

DULUTH, Minn.– The race to give out the COVID-19 vaccine continues as the Northland begins to move on to the next wave of people to get the shot.

So far, healthcare providers in Duluth have vaccinated over 1,400 people including frontline workers, long term care residents, and first responders.

St. Luke’s and Essentia Health both started giving vaccines to people who are 65 or older late last week. Now, they are working on getting people in that group lined to get the shot.

Both hospitals have been administering the vaccine for over a month, trying to work through the limited amount of doses they receive each week.

“We’re setting it at a cadence that will allow us to be able to keep up with our allotment,” said Sarah Manney, who is the Chief Medical Information Officer at Essentia Health.

After already giving out over 9,000 vaccinations so far, Essentia is asking patients 65 and older to register to receive a shot. The hospital is asking them to go to their website and enter their information on their MyChart service.

“If you’re already an existing patient and if you have a MyChart, then you are in our database and you will be randomized through our protocols,” said Manney. “But if you’re not an Essentia health patient, we also are offering it to all of the community as a way to get your COVID-19.”

Essentia will reach out to a patient when their turn comes, patients will go back to MyChart and schedule a time that works best to get the shot. But for those who aren’t able to get online, they are encouraged to call the hospital to set up an appointment.

“We do want to just reserve that for people who do not have the ability to use our technology,” said Manney. “Because we also use that same phone system for patient care issues.”

St. Luke’s has been doing the same, vaccinating over 5,200 people so far at a rate of 300 shots per day. The hospital began giving shots to people 65 and older on Friday.

Now in the next phase, they’ve been gathering information on their patients, trying to focus on those 75 and older to put them at the front of the line.

“Just kind of narrowing the population a little bit so we can do it quickly,” said Mike Boeselager, Vice President at St. Luke’s.

Appointments to get the shot will be given out randomly to those who are in the hospital’s database.

“Just like if you would have a different kind of vaccination. But it’s a pretty simple process and it’s meant to be simple and quick essentially,” said Boeselager.

St. Luke’s turned its old emergency room into their vaccination clinic where they hope to ramp up the number of doses to 500 daily starting February 1. Along with opening a call center for those who can’t register online.

St. Luke’s will start up their vaccine call center on Monday where those without internet access can begin to try and set up an appointment.

The hospital also recommends whatever option is easiest for people 65 and older to get the vaccine they should do whether that comes from their healthcare provider or a vaccination clinic from the state like in Mountain Iron.

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