Appointment necessary

Staff at the Fergus Falls COVID-19 Pilot Program site wait for recipients of the vaccine to enter. Fergus Falls is 1 of 9 pilot programs across the state.

which was capped for the weekend. On Friday alone, 37 people on the list were called in for their vaccinations, ensuring that none would be wasted. 

“The goal is to waste zero vaccine,” shared Otter Tail County Public Health Director Jody Lien. 

“If we have doses available, we will stay open not to waste them,” included Collin Sherraden, site lead. “We didn’t waste anything. Not one single dose was left, thrown away or put back in the fridge.” 

The pilot program is a Pfizer-run program that utilizes Otter Tail County Public Health, city of Fergus Falls and ISD No. 544 staff members. Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) has stepped up to provide the necessary ultra-cold storage for the program. After being removed from the ultra-cold storage, the vaccine remains effective for five days. To use the vaccine, nursing staff onsite reconstitute the concentrate with preservative-free saline, at which point the vaccine must be used within six hours. 

Citizens in the 2A vaccine category are participating in the program voluntarily. 

“The people who are here are ready. Those who have called with vaccine hesitancy, we have talked them through the process,” explained public health nurse Ann Gibbs. 

Over the course of three days, 13,369 vaccines were administered across the nine pilot locations. The number of vaccines coming to the local pilot program is dependent upon a number of factors including how much vaccine is manufactured and sent to the state specifically for use in the program. Individuals ages 65 and up can learn more about the program and register for the vaccine by visiting the website at mn.gov/vaccine or by calling toll free at 833-431-2053. School staff, educators and child care workers will be provided information to register by their employer. Valerie Johnson, middle school choir director, received her first round of the vaccine at the pilot program. “I was thrilled to be able to get the vaccine! Since September, I’ve been seeing 500 middle school choir students in person each week and consider this vaccination to be essential to physically remaining in the classroom. My hope is that teachers who have been fully vaccinated will not have to quarantine if they’ve been exposed at school,” she shared.

Individuals in the 1A vaccine category can still get their vaccines through local health care agencies and the public health office.

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