Grand Forks County is among the most vaccinated counties in the region, and its rate continues to climb.
About 12.1% of the county is fully vaccinated for COVID-19, according to data presented at a Grand Forks County Commission meeting Tuesday, March 2.
Grand Forks County was fourth in the region, including the Dakotas and Minnesota, for vaccination rates just behind Olmsted, Douglas and St. Louis counties in Minnesota. Olmsted County, which includes Rochester, Minn., has about 20.2% of its population covered with two dosages of the vaccine.
Narysse Nicolet, public health program specialist working with the county's COVID-19 data team, said those counties may have more health care population and may be why they are ahead of Grand Forks.
Still, Grand Forks ranks ahead of nearby Pennington (Thief River Falls), Polk (East Grand Forks) and Ottertail (Fergus Falls) counties in Minnesota, as well as Minnehaha and Pennington counties in South Dakota, which include the cities of Sioux Falls and Rapid City, respectively. Compared to its peer counties in the state – Cass, Morton/Burleigh and Ward – Grand Forks County is also ahead.
Grand Forks is hosting vaccine clinics every Wednesday and Saturday at the Alerus Center.
“We are getting consistent and positive feedback of vaccination experiences, which we do think helps with the (increase) in vaccinations in the county,” Nicolet said.
To date, Grand Forks County has administered 21,358 doses of the vaccine, including both the Pfizer and Moderna versions. The county is expected to get a shipment of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine sometime next week, according to Debbie Swanson, director of Grand Forks Public Health. Swanson said the shipment will go to the North Dakota Health Department first for reallocation.
Grand Forks is currently in Tiers 7 and 8 of Phase 1B of its vaccination plan. Those tiers include childcare workers and employees of preschools and schools teaching kindergarten through 12th grade. Vaccinations are also open for a number of other tiers, including anyone over the age of 65 and anyone with two or more high-risk medical conditions.
To set up a vaccine time go to mychart.altru.org or call 701-780-6358 to make an appointment to receive a vaccine. Those who have already put their name on the waitlist do not need to reach out again, and will be contacted to schedule a vaccine.
Swanson said the county will be working with rural school districts on ways to ensure teachers and staff can get vaccinated on-site.
In other county business Tuesday:
Samuel Landman was appointed to the county weed board.
Heather Everson was appointed again to the county emergency management board,
Commissioners also voted to send a letter to the editor to support Dr. Joel Walz’s plan to rescind the countywide mask mandate if Grand Forks’ COVID-19 gauge shows the virus presents a “low” risk here for 14 consecutive days. The 14th day would be Monday, March 8.