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Vaccinations will soon be available to anyone in North Dakota

COVID-19 Vaccine
COVID-19 Vaccine(CNN)
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 8:40 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Anyone in North Dakota who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will soon be able to get one. The state health department made the announcement at a news briefing Friday afternoon.

More than half of the states in the U.S. have moved on to Phase 1C priority groups, but North Dakota is among the few states taking a huge step and beginning to open up vaccinations to anyone who wants it statewide on March 29.

Nearly 327,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in North Dakota, putting the state in the top 10 in the nation for vaccine rollout efforts. But state health leaders admit the messaging for who can get the vaccine when, could have been clearer.

“It’s just a confusing message when you’re picking and choosing essential workers and underlying conditions,” said State Immunization Program Manager Molly Howell.

That confusion prompted them to open it up to everyone.

“It really streamlines the message and then makes sure we’re vaccinating as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” said Howell.

State health officials added staying on top of vaccinations will help curb the variants from spreading or potentially even landing in the state.

“In order for COVID-19 to replicate, the virus has to get inside of a person. In order for mutations to occur, that virus has to be replicating,” said State Disease Control Director Kirby Kruger.

Eleven variants have breached North Dakota’s borders already, the majority of which are the United Kingdom variant which is 50% more transmissible.

Kruger said while more research is needed, the vaccines so far have shown to protect against the UK variant and could provide some protection against the others.

Regardless, health officials said everyone who can get vaccinated should now that it’s beginning to open up to the masses.

“I do think this will just help in continuing to get as many people vaccinated as possible as soon as possible. But even this week, North Dakota was still one of the top in the nation,” said Howell.

Howell attributes the ongoing success of the state’s vaccine rollout to the more than 400 providers across the state receiving vaccine shipments and their state warehouse that’s broken down the large orders to distribute to those providers.

She said this helps the vaccine reach every corner of the state, quickly and efficiently. If you’re looking to get your vaccine, you can find a vaccination location near you online at ndvax.org.

However, starting April 1, the state health department will begin exclusively using the CDC’s vaccine locator at vaccinefinder.org.

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