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Vaccine rollout efforts in Olmsted County learning from mistakes

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- Folks walking into Willow Creek Middle School Friday, felt like they won they lottery -- and quite literally, they did win.

"It seems to be going well," Willow Creek Incident Commander Julie Drake said. It's good equity for all parties involved. We're getting localized people coming. The seniors we've been talking to are much happier and they know it was easier for them. So, that's what's important."

The state vaccination pilot site's switch to the lottery system avoid past frustrations like website crashes and long waits.

"It wasn't the lottery I expected to win, but I'll take it," vaccine recipient Dorene Menden said.

"They called me last night at 1 o'clock, so that was intense," another vaccine recipient Verne Klede said.

Meanwhile, it was a bumpy start at Mayo Clinic's vaccine site for patients 80 and older.

"I have nothing but good things to say about Mayo Clinic, but last night was a horrifying experience," 86 year old Ed Leidig said.

Photos submitted by a FOX 47 viewer Thursday night, show seniors waiting outside, with limited space inside for proper social distancing.

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"If I had to do it over again, I would have turned around and left," Leidig said. He adds that Thursday night was one of the first nights he and his wife have left the house since last March.

Friday, those issues at the Mayo site seem to be resolved.

"It was very pleasant. Everything went very quickly," Wayne Erickson said after receiving his first shot. "They knew precisely what they were going to do."

Mayo officials tell FOX 47 that there are now door attendants, general service for wheel chairs and proper routing for people inside. In a statement to FOX 47, those Mayo officials want to remind the public to have patience.

Mayo Clinic was alerted by the state on Friday that we could start vaccinating our older adult population in the counties we serve. Rather than opening it up immediately to everyone age 65 and up, we decided to start with the population age 80 and up, since age itself is a major risk factor for more severe COVID disease and we knew we would still have limitations based on the doses available. We started notifying patients on Monday, received the shipment of doses on Tuesday, and needed to get it all set up and running by Wednesday.

There were a few inefficiencies on the first day, but the situation was quickly remedied. In less than one full day, we added door attendants, general service for wheel chairs, staff for help with routing people, among other things. Reports today are that things are running very efficiently at this point. We ask for the public and the media to be patient as we do our best to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible."Mayo Clinic Statement

The fix gives back hope to those who need it.

"I'm glad it's resolved," Leidig said. "It means we can get back to a normal life. We can see our family. My wife can't wait to hug the children."

"We're so thankful. It means a lot," Erickson's daughter, Allison Ciota said. She accompanied him to his appointment. "It's great. He's been waiting for this opportunity and I'm so grateful at age 83, he's getting the protection he needs."

"You have to start somewhere," another vaccine recipient, Pauline Fligge said. "And this is a good start."

Like a lot of things during this pandemic, it's a learning experience along the way.

"We are using these as they are listed, as pilots. All of these operations around the state, there are nine of them, they are different sizes and we are using them as learning experiences," Drake said.

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Beret Leone

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