250 people vaccinated at Community Memorial Hospital
Carlton County officials recently offered the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to senior residents and primary caregivers.
Approximately 250 residents in Carlton County received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) in Cloquet Friday, March 5.
The clinic began at 9 a.m. Friday and was originally open to those 65 years or older, with primary caregivers made eligible by the Minnesota Department of Health on Friday.
Carlton County public health nurse specialist Jenny Barta has been leading the county's response to the pandemic for the past year and said the biggest challenge with administering COVID-19 vaccines has been identifying priority groups.
“There’s always going to be challenges with a vaccine rollout of this scale,” she said.
As a solution, county officials have turned to local health care providers and education partners to help put together vaccine priority lists. The clinic at CMH was one example of that effort.
The county released a public statement about the clinic after calling people listed on vaccine waiting lists, Barta said. This led to a high volume in calls Wednesday and Thursday until all the slots were filled. The majority of those vaccinated were residents age 65 and older.
Carlton resident George Schubitzke said it's been difficult to not see his family during the pandemic. He hopes getting the vaccination will change that. He said he felt fine after receiving his shot.
“The kids don’t even come to see us anymore,” he said.
The same was true for Laurie Stangl, who said she couldn’t see her grandchildren until she got vaccinated. She especially missed spending time with her family over the holidays.
“Gotta do what you gotta do,” she said. “It’s hard.”
Stangl was concerned about a possible reaction to the shot and said she was instructed to stay 30 minutes after her dose for observation, instead of the usual 15 minutes.
Carlton resident Cherlyn Booker was also concerned about receiving the vaccine.
Booker and her fiancé, William Carrier, eventually decided to sign up for the clinic after talking to friends who had also received doses of the Moderna shot. Booker said they decided it was better to be safe than sorry.
“I just hope it gets the job done,” Carrier said.
The couple has been engaged for a little over a year, and Booker said they aren’t going to start planning the wedding until after the pandemic is over.
The majority of Booker’s family lives in the Twin Cities area, and she misses them a lot. Luckily, Carrier’s family is closer and they see his family often, which they said has helped them to cope.
Bob Pfeffer and his wife have found another way to cope by visiting a “bubble” of close friends on a weekly basis. They eat dinner and watch movies together.
The pair has been married for about 40 years, and Pfeffer said they have just been trying to not drive each other crazy.
They are both at high risk for COVID-19 and have not left the house very often in light of the pandemic. Pfeffer suffers from tremors and his wife is recovering from cancer, as well as a kidney transplant she had 14 years ago at Mayo Clinic. Pfeffer said receiving the vaccine was “long overdue.”
“We were getting a little frustrated with the system,” he said, and shared that he was starting to feel envious of others who were getting vaccines.
The couple went from being on multiple waiting lists to receiving four calls within a 24-hour period offering them a dose of a vaccine.
Pfeffer chose to come to CMH because it was closest to his home and said he was impressed with the efficiency of the clinic.
Aletha Leveille, who heard about the CMH clinic from her sister, said the sign up process for the event was uncomplicated and she felt it went “very well.”
There will be another clinic hosted this week. Essential caregivers and people age 65 and older should call 218-499-6310 to learn more about appointments at upcoming vaccine clinics.
Everyone else should call the county's COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 218-499-6312.
This story was updated at 1 p.m. March 8 with updated information from Carlton County public health nurse specialist Jenny Barta about the number of people who were vaccinated. It was originally posted at 2:44 p.m. March 5.