St. Louis County Public Health has administered COVID-19 vaccinations to at least 150 residents, officials said Monday.

Public health officials received their first shipment of the Moderna vaccine last week and have since been offering the vaccine to “paramedics, advanced emergency medical technicians, emergency medical technicians and emergency medical responders,” according to a news release. Officials estimated there are about 700 individuals working in such categories throughout the county.

The department is also working with EMS services to identify and contact all individuals who are eligible to receive a vaccination during the first phase, per state and federal guidelines.

The vaccines are being administered as St. Louis County reported 12,324 total cases and 195 deaths since March.

County officials received a total of 500 doses in the first shipment, with an additional 300 doses of the vaccine scheduled to arrive this week. They held vaccination clinics on Christmas Eve in Virginia and then on Monday in Virginia, Ely and Hermantown. Vaccinations are set to be offered in other locations in St. Louis County, which has a population of about 200,000 residents residing throughout 6,680-square-miles in the largest county by total area in the state.

People receiving the Moderna vaccine are given reminder cards to return for a second dose in four weeks.

Public Health is one of three systems - the others being hospitals and pharmacies - administering vaccines in St. Louis County right now.

Previously, the Mesabi Tribune reported that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the first to hit the market after federal approval, arrived in Minnesota two weeks ago as COVID-19 infections decelerated from a November peak that pushed hospital capacities to the brink and without remorse added hundreds of Minnesotans to the COVID-19’s death toll in the month alone. Since March, more than 410,138 residents have been infected and 5,160 dead from the virus.

Since then, vaccines had been administered across the Iron Range. Injections started at Essentia Health in Virginia and Deer River, along with Fairview Range in Hibbing, while St. Luke’s in Duluth delivered its first on Dec. 18. The Bois Forte Band of Chippewa also began inoculations two weeks ago.

Vaccines approved by federal regulators, like the ones produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are what health officials consider the fastest route back to pre-COVID life in the state and across the world, though quantities of both vaccines are limited to this point.


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