May 6, 2021

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

Grant County achieves over 50 percent vaccination rate as variants identified

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Health reported that Grant County has achieved a 53 percent vaccination rate. That means 53 percent of 16 year olds or older have started, or completed, their COVID-19 vaccinations. As of Sunday, 2,504 had gotten at least their first vaccination, and 2,165 had completed their vaccinations.

The numbers show that opening vaccinations to teens 16-17 year olds may have made the difference. Forty-three 16 to 17 year olds have been vaccinated in the county. 

WCA Secondary Principal Susan Knutson said the vaccinations of WCA students were organized by Horizon Public Health and administered by Prairie Ridge Health Care.  

“The school is just the avenue used for communications and actual shots will be given on our campus,” she said.

WCA sent an announcement out to families about the availability of the vaccinations.  If interested, the family needed to submit a consent form by a due date.  That information was shared with Horizon and PRHC so that they could order the appropriate number of vaccines.  We had 17 students turn in consent forms.  They  all received their first dose of the vaccine during the school day, Friday, April 23.

“If a student is still interested, they should contact Horizon Public Health or Prairie Ridge Health Care,” Knutson added.

Also in Grant County, 705 18 to 49 year olds have started vaccinations, along with 651 50 to 64 year olds and 1,075 people over 65.

Douglas, Pope, and Stevens counties have achieved a vaccination rate of 51 percent. Traverse is at 50 percent, Wilkin, 36 percent, and Otter Tail County, 46 percent. All these rates are an improvement from just weeks ago.

Vaccinations are more important now than ever!  Horizon Public Health has been notified by the Minnesota Department of Health that the B.1.1.7., B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants have been identified in the Horizon Public Health service area that includes Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stevens, and Traverse counties. Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. The B.1.1.7. variant was first identified in the United Kingdom in December 2020 and is now the most common version of the virus spread in the United States. The B1.427 and B.1.429 are two additional variants which were first identified in California in February 2021.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) these variants seem to spread more easily than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. What does this mean? It means that if someone is spreading the virus, it has the potential to impact more people that have had contact with the person. This can lead to a more rapid increase in cases which can impact hospitalizations and could result in additional poor outcomes.

What can you do to protect yourself? We all have pandemic fatigue, but we need to still practice public health preventative measures which include:

* Choose to get vaccinated. The CDC recommends all those over the age of 16 get vaccinated. Data suggests that the COVID-19 vaccines should work against these variants.

* Wear a mask in public settings, events, and gatherings.

* Maintain distancing from those who don’t live with you and avoid crowds.

* Wash your hands often and,

* Get tested. It is critically important to get tested and stay home when you are sick.

All Minnesotans 16 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. According to recent data, 50% of those 16 and older have received at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the counties of Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stevens, and Traverse. Horizon Public Health together with local healthcare providers and pharmacies have been working hard to vaccinate and are continuing to hold ongoing COVID-19 vaccine clinics. To find a clinic near you, visit <www.horizonpublichealth.org>.

For more information about the variants, please visit the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health’s website. If you have additional questions or need assistance, you can call the Horizon Public Health COVID-19 helpline at 800-450-4177 option 3, or visit our website at <www.horizonpublichealth.org>.