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Health officials still cautious on COVID-19 vaccine

The Keweenaw Alliance hosted a virtual breakfast Thursday morning, with a significant amount of the discussion dedicated to the COVID-19 vaccine. Most of the news was positive. Western UP Health Director Kate Beer says that Houghton County has nine providers who can distribute the vaccine. The department is looking at facilitating community disbursement which could potentially administer as many as 100 doses in a day with minimal staff. 

Besides supply bottlenecks, continued wariness surrounding the vaccine is the greatest impediment to distribution. Beer shared that protocol demands any person who is given a shot must be monitored afterwards for the potential of side effects.

The shot is administered and then there is this wait period. There is just not enough information out there about any side effects or any reactions so, at a minimum, people are sat in a chair for 15 minutes so they can be observed.

Christine Harff from Aspirus and Ed Freysinger of UP Health were each asked what percentage of their staff had agreed to be vaccinated. Both gave a similar range of 65%-70%. Harff said the biggest concern is the expedited approval process. Operation Warp Speed delivered vaccines in roughly nine months, far faster than any prior effort. Neither hospital system is making vaccination mandatory for employees at this time.

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