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The battle against the Coronavirus returned to Bowman Thursday (Feb. 25) when hundreds of people got an armful of the Moderna vaccine during a vaccination event set up by the Southwestern Health Unit.

There were appointments made for people to get the vaccination, in some cases the second of the two required for the vaccinations to have the full effect protecting them from the pandemic.

According to Sherry Adams, the health unit was scheduled to give about 350 doses out, with an assist from the North Dakota National Guard.

“It was primarily focusing on those who were 65 and above, but also adding those who were 18 to 64 with chronic conditions. If they had extra doses, they were going to start on the next tier (or group),” she said.

“We are still on (Phase) 1B still. The next group that we will be doing is teachers and daycare. Those are the last two categories in 1B. That will probably be in mid to later March.”

The health unit will be returning by the end of March in order to supply the second of the two required doses of the Moderna vaccine, she explained.

“What we are mostly doing in the counties are the Moderna (vaccine) so that we can go back in a four-week rotation.

“Anybody in our region can go to any of the clinics, so if somebody prefers Pfizer (vaccine) in Dickinson, they can register (for it). In Bowman (County) it is primarily Moderna,” she said.

The health unit which covers a group of eight counties in the southwestern portion of the state has been providing vaccinations since December, she explained. She said that the region has already provided more than 5,000 doses in the area.

“In Bowman, this has been probably our fourth or fifth time down there for vaccinations.

“It seems to be going well. We are hoping more and more people will be continuing to show up at the clinic.”

People wanting information about the vaccines and how to make an appointment is by going to the health unit Facebook page or website, Adams said. “We keep trying to update those two locations, but for sure (they should) go to the website. That is where we are listing the links to register. That is www.swdhu.net.”

According to Adams, there have not been any reports of the new virus variants in the local region. If we see an outbreak in a community or start seeing extra cases we would run what is called the PCR test, she explained. The PCR (polyerase chain reaction) test for the virus is designed to look for the specific genetic material within the virus and may take a swab of the throat or use a saliva sample.

“Then, we would confer with the state if the situation looks like it might warrant testing for the variant, that is one way an area may get tested. The other way is with the state taking random samples for testing and running those for surveillance and seeing if they can pick up the variant.”

As of Thursday (Feb. 25), there have been only two reported cases involving the variants found in the state, but not in the western region, Adams explained.

“A better indicator (for a variant) would be if we started seeing more sick people in a region where it had been very slow with positives. That would be a good indication that it might be starting to show up more,” Adams explained.

The event Thursday ran from 9 a.m. through 2 p.m. in the Four Seasons Pavilion.

“The next time we come to Bowman will be within the next four week period,” she said. “If we get a lot more (vaccines), it could be sooner, but for sure, it will be within the month.”

People still need to be extra careful even with the vaccines being issued, Adams said. Until we get at least 80 percent of the population vaccinated – or get to that 80 percent herd immunity – we still have to take precautions. That COVID is still around and is still a threat.

“Make sure you take advantage when it is your turn to get the vaccine and continue to take precautions. And to slow that variant coming into your county,” she said.

The health unit will probably complete Phase 1B of the vaccinations by the end of March, Adams said. “Probably in April, we’ll start 1C.”

The recently approved one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine is currently undergoing planning on how to use it in the region, she added.

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