Health officials in St. Louis County have had to cancel the appointments of some Minnesotans who registered to get the COVID-19 vaccine before it was their turn.
In a news release Wednesday, St. Louis County Public Health is reminding people that it has an "extremely limited supply" of the COVID-19 vaccine, and it is focusing on registering and vaccinating people who are in Phase 1A (health care workers, first responders, long term care workers, etc.), as well as K-12 educators and child care providers.
"We had several unfortunate incidents this week of individuals who registered for our clinics and had to be turned away at the door," St. Louis County Public Health Division Director Amy Westbrook said in a statement. "We also have been notifying others by email that their appointment has been canceled due to ineligibility.
"We have no evidence that anyone was knowingly trying to register inappropriately," Westbrook added. "Some were in the 65-plus age category and are eligible to be vaccinated through the state or their medical provider. We need people to be patient and remain vigilant in taking COVID precautions because we simply don't have sufficient supply to vaccinate anyone other than those in our focus groups."
St. Louis County residents who are eligible to get a COVID vaccine at the county's vaccination sites will be contacted by their employer or by the county to schedule an appointment via a registration link.
Health officials ask them not to share the link with others because anyone who isn't yet eligible for the vaccine and uses the link will be turned away, as will people who show up at a vaccination site without an appointment.
K-12 educators and child care providers can register with the county to get a vaccine (here's the website). Anyone who is 65 or older should contact their healthcare provider or watch for announcements from the state for when the lottery system reopens.
Five health systems – hospitals, pharmacies, local public health, tribal government and the state – are administering vaccines in Minnesota, the county says.
St. Luke's suspends vaccine hotline
Hospitals in St. Louis County have been overwhelmed with requests from people looking to get the COVID-19 vaccine, with St. Luke's in Duluth posting on Facebook on Tuesday that it was temporarily suspending its COVID-19 vaccine clinic hotline "due to an overwhelming response."
On Wednesday, it updated its process for scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments, noting St. Luke's will call primary care patients to schedule appointments. People can also schedule an appointment online here, which will soon be open to non-St. Luke's patients 65 and older.
"The online schedule is built out for a rolling four weeks. Each weekday at 8 a.m., St. Luke’s will add one day onto the end of that four-week schedule. That means every morning there will be a new batch of appointments available for people to schedule through the portal," the hospital system says.
St. Luke's says it is currently administering about 200 doses per day but has the ability to administer more once vaccine allocations increase.