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The Vaccine Supply Doesn't Favor Roseau County

by Jeff Olsen

It's a supply and demand problem at the present time in Roseau County. With a population of just over 15,000, those wanting to be vaccinated are in a waiting game.

"There is only a limited amount of vaccine," said Julie Pahlen, the Director of Public Health at LifeCare Medical Center in Roseau.

On Wednesday afternoon, she was asked about the availability of Covid-19 vaccine for the elderly.

"We've got both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, but in small amounts. We are following the priorities and the plan and phases set by the state and federal governments.”

Pahlen explained that they had just finished the first phase, which included healthcare providers and first-responders, nursing home residents, staff members at nursing homes, group homes, and assisted living residents.

"We just finished those last week," she said, explaining that they had received the first initial dose.

Pahlen further noted that this past week they started with the second doses for those initial groups.

"It's either 21 or 28 days between doses depending on which vaccine they were administered," she said. "We are immunizing people in Roseau County with both Moderna and Pfizer based on our availability of vaccines."

She added that the two vaccines are not interchangeable.

"You can't receive both kinds. If you start with Moderna, you finish with Moderna. If you start with Pfizer, you finish with Pfizer."

Approximately, how many Roseau County residents have been vaccinated with the second dose?

"Around 700 people," she said, adding that not everyone in the initial phase of vaccinations have received their second dose.

"We haven't done them all yet. We're on the first round of doing the second doses, and we still have people to get the second doses in the future."

When will you begin the next category to be vaccinated?

"The answer is we're going to get started on the group 65 and older. Of course, it's based on the availability of vaccine. Next week, we will get started on the 65 and older. With that said, it's very limited doses."

Do they have to contact you or do you contact them?

"They have to call. We are setting up a vaccination hotline number for them to call. They must call 218-463-4751 to get an appointment scheduled."

LifeCare will begin vaccinating people 65 and older beginning on Tuesday, January 26.

"As part of our planning, we are well aware how fast we can vaccinate people in an eight hour day. So, when we plan to hold these vaccination clinics, basically we plan to use up all the vaccine on that one day."

Thus, there can be further delays before more seniors and the elderly can be vaccinated.

"When there's lots of vaccine, we know that we can vaccinate over 500 people in a day," she said, adding that they are lucky if they receive a couple hundred doses in a week.

"Typically, it is one type of vaccine. Some weeks it's Pfizer and other weeks it's Moderna," she said, acknowledging the limited doses of vaccine, particularly in regards to senior citizens 65 or older in Roseau County.

"We know that we should probably have 4,000 doses to try to vaccinate all of them. But we aren't going to have 4,000 doses for a long time. We're just going to get a hundred or a couple of hundred. That is all we are going to get. We hope weekly, but we don't even know that."

She then mentioned a new LifeCare Information Hotline.

"Daily, we are going to change our Information Hotline. That's another place the residents of Roseau County can receive information. It's a pre-recorded message and will give them an update on where we're at with vaccinations or updates on other things that are changing regarding Covid."

The number is 218-463-4779

Finally, Julie Pahlen, LifeCare Director of Public Health, declared that both vaccines are fine.

"We've had lots of employees vaccinated with either Pfizer or Moderna, and everybody has done really well."


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