MINNESOTA (WCCO) – More than one million Minnesotans have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but there’s a big difference in progress from county to county.
Nearly half the people living in Cook County have had at least one shot, and their 46.5% vaccination rate is the highest in the state while Sherburne County has the lowest, with 14.1 percent of its population being vaccinated.READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: 16 Deaths, 1,715 New Cases; Nearly 50% Of Eligible Minnesotans Have Received 1st Vaccine Dose
About 300 people will get their shots in Sherburne this week after the county was allocated 300 doses from the Minnesota Department of Health.
Tawnia Prior drove to the Sherburne County Government Center from her home in Delano in Wright County to be vaccinated Tuesday and she won’t count in Sherburne’s statistics – a common phenomenon, according to Amanda Larson, the county’s director of health and human services.
“Out of those who we’ve vaccinated in Sherburne County, 50% don’t actually live in Sherburne County,” Larson said.
Nicole Ruhoff, a public health manager with the county, says many of the vaccinated teachers in Sherburne County school districts live elsewhere. Larson admits the low percentage of vaccinated people concerns her, but she says the county’s giving out all the doses it gets. Larson also says she’s used Sherburne’s low number to plead the county’s case to the state.
“We really need more vaccines so we can get those numbers up and so we’ve given that to MDH, and the next week our allocation was 1,000 which was huge for us,” said Larson.
She points out that Sherburne’s also young; about a third of the population is younger than 18, but on the flip side, another third of Cook County’s population is 65 and older.
Cook’s vaccination rate gets a boost too from the Grand Portage Reservation.READ MORE: WI Supreme Court: Gov. Evers Can't Limit Business Capacity
“They’ve done a fantastic job of vaccinating their members,” said Grace Grinager, Cook County’s public health supervisor.
Kate Surbaugh is the CEO of Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in Cook County, which works closely with the public health department to administer doses. She describes the process of requesting as delicate.
“Making sure that we have not too little but also that the vaccine is being used, so making sure we’re ordering the right amount,” she said.
Still, officials say demand outpaces supply, and while Sherburne and Cook Counties would like more each week, Surbaugh says Cook County may soon reach its saturation point if eligibility isn’t expanded.
What counts for health officials in Sherburne and Cook is administering all the doses they’re given.
Ruhoff says while this week’s allocation for Sherburne is 300 doses, there have been weeks of 1,300,800 and 1,400.
“We’re allocated what we’re allocated, and we get it out within the time frame we’re required to,” said Ruhoff.MORE NEWS: Executive Council Extends Gov. Walz's Emergency Powers
WCCO asked the Department of Health what goes into deciding each county’s allocation every week. They didn’t get back to us with those answers Tuesday.