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Minnesota nursing homes see large-scale vaccination effort

CVS Health plans to vaccinate more than 63,000 residents and staff of nearly 600 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities across Minnesota.

MINNEAPOLIS — Pharmacy chains CVS Health and Walgreens launched a large-scale effort on Monday to help vaccinate residents and staff of Minnesota long-term care facilities for coronavirus.

CVS Health plans to vaccinate more than 63,000 residents and staff of nearly 600 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities across Minnesota during a 12-week effort that began in several states last week.

One of the nursing homes includes the New Brighton Care Center. The administrator there saying it's an "exciting day". A total of 38 residents and 40 staff members at the center are being vaccinated on Monday. 

CVS will make three visits to each facility to ensure residents and staff receive both doses of the vaccine, spokeswoman Abby Major said.

Walgreens aims to vaccinate nearly 3 million residents and staff in a nationwide effort that includes Minnesota.

Patti Cullen, the CEO of a non-profit called Care Providers of Minnesota, helps Minnesota's long-term care facilities. She's calling the speed at which the state's most vulnerable are being vaccinated "incredible". Cullen says about 30 nursing homes will get vaccines Monday.

Credit: Lacey - New Brighton Care Center

"With the Covid vaccine, we're seeing 80 to 90 percent of residents saying yes to it and then staff is a little bit different, it varies," explained Cullen.

State health officials said long-term care facilities will be receiving the Moderna vaccine, which the state received in an initial shipment of 94,800 doses last week.

People have to wait 28 days between their first and second doses and Cullen says it can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to be in full effect, warning people to continue practicing safety measures. 

"Given the number of deaths of the elderly in our congregate settings, every day we don't get vaccinated is a risk," said Cullen. 

Credit: Lacey - New Brighton Care Center

The Minnesota Department of Health on Monday reported 1,087 new cases of the coronavirus and 13 deaths — the lowest number of single-day deaths reported since mid-November when case growth began to dramatically increase across the state. The state's totals now stand at 410,138 cases and 5,160 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Minnesota continued its decline over the past two weeks, going from nearly 4,000 on Dec. 13 to about 1,677 on Dec. 27. Hospitalizations dipped below 1,000 over the weekend with 675 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of Sunday, including 203 in intensive care. 

After completing the vaccinations at Minnesota's nursing homes, CVS and Walgreens will move on to the state's 1,600 assisted living facilities in February. 

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