With more than a half-million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in North Dakota, more than 260,000 North Dakotans have received at least one vaccination in the fight against a global pandemic. However, local public health administrators in the southwest central region (Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health, Custer Health, Emmons County Public Health and Kidder County District Health Unit) acknowledge that the region and the state has not yet reached the herd immunity goal of 70 percent of the population vaccinated.
“Local public health has been extremely busy with vaccinations the past few months, but we have a lot more work to do in our region to meet our goal of 70 percent fully vaccinated. Vaccinations are key to ending this pandemic, and are especially important as we continue to see an increase of COVID-19 variants throughout the state,” said Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health Director, Renae Moch.
“Vaccination allows you so much more flexibility to experience so many more aspects of life safely,” said Custer Health Administrator Erin Ourada. “According to the CDC if you are with other fully-vaccinated individuals, you can gather indoors with other individuals who are fully vaccinated. Additionally, if you are fully vaccinated and are a close contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19, you are not required to quarantine if you meet the appropriate criteria. Travel is also made significantly easier. All this means is that the more people that are vaccinated, the easier it is as a society to stop COVID-19 in its tracks.”
Mask usage is still encouraged, even after vaccination. At this time researchers believe that vaccinations may lessen the ability to spread COVID-19, but it is unknown if it eliminates spread altogether. Also, as no vaccine is 100-percent effective, mask usage helps stack more percentages in your favor that you will not become ill.
“We are hearing anecdotal evidence of individuals who are waiting on receiving their vaccine because they want their shot to go into the arms of individuals who need it more,” said Emmons County Public Health Executive Officer Bev Voller. “Honestly, the time has come, that if you want this vaccine, you need to get it now. Earlier, when we were utilizing the priority groups laid out by the Department of Health, that was when we needed people to wait their turn for the vaccine. We have completed going through those priority groups – if you want the vaccine and are eligible to receive it based on your age, get it.”
Presently, individuals aged 16 and older may receive the Pfizer vaccine, while you must be 18 or older to receive the Moderna vaccine. Individuals aged 16 or 17 must have parental consent to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
“I think it is important that people find their own why, for getting the vaccine. We know there are some folks who have been hesitant since the vaccine was first made available,” said Kidder County District Health Unit Administrator Janel Brousseau. “But there is now a track record of the vaccine being safe and effective. Whether it be for visiting family, going on a vacation, participating in sports, whatever that reason is, the vaccines we have access to make those experiences possible and safer. The question is, what is your reason? It can be a new reason, or an old one, but the important thing is to find why you want to be part of the solution that helps end this pandemic.”
Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given as two-round doses. The second dose of Pfizer can be received 21 days after the first dose, while the second dose of Moderna can be received 28 days after its first dose. Individuals receiving their second dose are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after completing their second dose of the vaccine.
Vaccine clinics are available through each of the four public health units in the region. Visit www.ndvax.org to look for vaccine clinics near you, or go to https://vaccinefinder.org/search to search for vaccine availability by zip code.
For ongoing response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Dakota Department of Health has established a COVID-19 Hotline to help answer your questions. You may call 1-866-207-2880, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with questions. Please note that individuals seeking specific medical advice should contact their healthcare provider.
For questions about vaccine or testing events, as well as questions about other health programs and issues, please contact your appropriate public health unit. You can call BBPH at (701) 355-1540, or connect online at www.bismarcknd.gov, or through social media: via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can reach Custer Health by calling its Mandan office at (701) 667-3370, toll free at (888) 667-3370, its Carson office at (701) 622-3591 or toll free at (888) 715-9272 or its Beulah office at (701) 873-4433 or connect online at www.custerhealth.gov or through Facebook. Contact Emmons County Public Health at (701) 254-4027 or connect online at www.emmonsnd.com or through Facebook. Contact Kidder County District Health Unit by calling (701) 475-2582 or by visiting them on Facebook. For more info about COVID-19, visit the ND Department of Health website, NDResponse.gov, or CDC website.