People who received their first vaccination for COVID-19 a month ago began receiving their second dose Tuesday, according to Robin Iszler, unit administrator for Central Valley Health District.
Initial doses went to medical personnel and first responders in the area. Even while administering vaccinations, staff of Central Valley Health District was also conducting rapid tests at the Jamestown Civic Center for people who may have already contracted the disease.
According to the North Dakota Department of Health website, about 7% of the Stutsman County population has received at least its first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, although Iszler said challenges remain.
"We are waiting on more vaccine in order to do more first doses," she said.
Local health districts generally only get a couple of days' notice of when vaccines will be arriving.
"We don't know how much to expect even for next week," Iszler said. "We don't know how much and what manufacturer will arrive."
The COVID accine manufactured by Pfizer has to be stored in an extremely cold deep freeze that is not available in Stutsman County. Once thawed in North Dakota, it is shipped to local health clinics around the state which have five days to use the vaccine.
The COVID vaccine manufactured by Moderna can be kept frozen in a normal freezer and stored under normal refrigeration for up to 30 days.
Once a vial, commonly holding five or 10 doses, of either vaccine is open it must be used within five hours.
For these reasons, it is difficult to plan for vaccination events in advance, Iszler said.
"When we call people, they may not have a lot of notice," she said.
They may also call more people than they have vaccine in case there are people who don't show up.
Currently in Stutsman County, the pharmacies and clinics do not have the COVID-19 vaccines although that may change in the future depending on the amounts of the vaccine made available in the future.
"We have no idea when those doses may become available," Iszler said.
Central Valley Health District has an open online survey where people can sign up to receive information about when vaccines will be available for their age and health conditions under the COVID-19 tab of its website www.centralvalleyhealth.org.
Iszler said while the federal government has opened vaccine up to all people 65 years of age and older, the state of North Dakota is limiting vaccination to those 75 years of age and older along with first responders and medical professionals.
In Stutsman County, there are 1,854 people older than 75, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2019 estimate. There are another 2,108 residents between the age of 65 and 74 in the county.
Iszler said Stutsman County has been receiving about 100 doses per week from the allocation of less than 10,000 received by the state of North Dakota.