Otter Tail County Public Health is offering vaccine appointments to everyone 16 years and older. Public health does not bill insurance or charge an administration fee for COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is readily available so there is no need to wait your turn. Your turn is today!

COVID-19 vaccine data for Otter Tail County Public Health

As of April 20, 46% of Otter Tail County residents age 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine and 21,757 people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with 18,343 completing the vaccine series.

Otter Tail County has been notified by the Minnesota Department of Health that the B.1.1.7, B.1.427, B.1.429, and B.1.526 variants have been identified in our area.

What is a variant and how do they emerge?

Jessica Daniels, instructor of biology at M State has a quick biology lesson for us: “Viruses infect and use the host’s cells to replicate and make more copies of itself. When someone is infected with the COVID-19 virus, the virus is replicating its genetic material (RNA) to make new viruses. The more times the virus replicates, the more times it mutates its genetic material. This is how we get new variants, like the U.K. (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351), and Brazil (P.1) variants. Mutations can be detrimental, neutral, or beneficial to the virus. Mutations that give and an advantage to the virus will eventually become more common. The U.K. variant is now the dominant variant in the U.S. because it binds more tightly to our cells, thus it’s more infectious.”

Will our current vaccines work against the variant?

Research is showing that our current vaccines are still effective against the variants.

Why is there so much concern about variants if the vaccine is effective against them?

“When we continue to let the virus spread, it will continue to mutate and change,” says Daniels. “The more the virus mutates, the less likely our immune systems will be able to recognize and kill the virus (and current vaccine may not be effective). This is the reason we need to get a flu shot each year, as the virus mutates very quickly. So how do we keep the virus from mutating? We stop it from replicating. Even those “asymptomatic” infections or mild cases continue to replicate and propagate the virus. So, it’s a race against the virus. The faster we all get vaccinated, the more likely we win! Make a vaccination appointment today!”

Otter Tail County Public Health vaccination information and updates

Call: Public Health Information Line at 218-998-8378 or toll free at 833-445-1578.

Text: COVIDOTC to 67283.

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