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Waiting lists available for COVID-19 vaccine

By Sue Sitter - | Feb 13, 2021

Two Rugby pharmacies, Heart of America Johnson Clinic and Lake Region District Health Unit have opened waiting lists for area residents seeking vaccines for COVID-19.

The wait lists for the four providers are at different stages in distribution, according to representatives.

Heart of America Medical Center CEO Erik Christenson said Feb. 1, “Last week, we were finishing up on our age 75 and older group. They’re working through that and now we’re moving into the 65 to 74-year-old group with two or more high-risk medical conditions.”

Christenson noted, “Allotments (of the vaccine) are coming out in stages. It’s a process that seems to be changing week by week as the (Biden) administration makes different decisions.”

“But,” he added, “What we were informed about is one week, they’ll be giving it to hospital-based clinics, then on the second week, it’ll go to district health units, then the third week, it goes to independent pharmacies and independent clinics.”

Christenson explained the process for obtaining the vaccine through Heart of America clinics.

“What we’re informing people is if you want to get on the waiting list or you want the vaccine, you call our hotline at the hospital, call district health and then call (Heart of America Pharmacy) to get into one of those places.”

“I will let you know that at least (HAMC) pharmacy has the Pfizer vaccine,” Christenson noted. We are doing the Moderna vaccine (at HAMC Johnson Clinic). So, you can’t get one dose in the pharmacy and one dose in the clinic. If you get it at the pharmacy, you’re going to have to stay at the pharmacy because those are Pfizer vaccines and we’re not crossing those over.”

Pharmacist Tallie Schneider said 40 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were given the first week of February at the Heart of America Clinic Pharmacy. “We have not been allocated any more doses yet, so we’re waiting to see when we will get some more,” Schneider said. “We are taking the names of people who want the shot on a waiting list. We have no timeline (for when more vaccine will be distributed.

Christenson said Heart of America Johnson Clinic “did about 60 vaccinations last Thursday. We’ve done quite a few here on our vaccination days on the hospital side,” Christenson added.

“Our pharmacy has done about 40 vaccinations. I don’t know what White Drug has done or district health has done at this point. But, how it works in this community is you’re going to use those four points. You’ve got White Drug, (HAMC) Clinic Pharmacy, district health and the (HAMC Johnson) clinic for the people in Rugby. Obviously, if you’re in other areas, go to your district health unit there, or you can contact any of those areas here in town.”

Pharmacist Kyle DeMontigny of Rugby’s Thrifty White Drug Pharmacy said the store’s waiting list has different conditions than those in other immunization sites in town.

DeMontigny referred to a statement by Thrifty White Drug Pharmacy’s website, which said the vaccines were limited in North Dakota stores to persons 75 and older as of Feb. 5.

“We ask that you do NOT call your local pharmacy,” the statement read. “Appointments are booked online only and walk-ins will not be accepted.”

Speaking on the immunization program at HAMC Johnson Clinic, Christenson said, “We should get a large chunk of at least the high-risk populace completed. We’re going to have to set aside time for the second dose. There will be clinic days when we won’t be doing a lot of initial, primary dosing. We’ll be doing the booster dosing, because the 60 people who got their initial doses on Thursday will have to come back in 28 days and get their booster dose.”

“So, we’re going to make sure we’re scheduling that in as well, which may create some delays. But, people regarding vaccinations need to (contact HAMC’s COVID hotline or Pierce County’s Lake Region District Health Unit office),” Christenson said. “It probably doesn’t hurt to get yourself on all of the waiting lists and wait until they call you to get you in.”

Christenson noted both pharmacies in town, public health and the Johnson Clinic were coordinating their efforts to distribute the vaccine.

Christenson said vaccines would be given at the Johnson Clinic every Thursday.

Christenson said he was aware “the (HAMC) pharmacy and clinic are calling out to their patients to get them on their list, but these are their patients. If you are not a patient of one of these places, you would need to call and schedule an appointment.”

Christenson said vaccine distribution efforts in North Dakota have been a success.

“The federal government increased the allotment to the state of North Dakota from 10,000 doses a week up to 11,000 doses. It was a little over a 11,000 doses a week,” Christenson said, adding, “I don’t know how it’s working but it does as the federal government is able to release more doses out to the state, the allotments to our local communities will increase as well.”

“So,” Christenson added, “that has to do with how much the state is getting. The state doesn’t control that. The state is allotted about 11,000 a week. They were getting 10,000. So, they increased the allotment but it depends on if the federal government is able to get more vaccine produced, get more allotments out to the state, then the department of health will release more doses out to the various areas in the state.”

Samantha Wentz, a registered nurse in charge of Pierce County’s Lake Region District Health Unit office, also praised vaccine distribution efforts in North Dakota.

“We’re actually number one at how fast we’re getting the vaccine,” Wentz said of North Dakota. “We’re getting the vaccine and getting it out in the same week. So, that’s why North Dakota is doing really well. It’s an organized effort.”

“We’re working on (immunizing persons) age 65 and older,” Wentz said, “Also, any age with two or more conditions can call and get on a waiting list.” Wentz said she recommended calling her Pierce County office for a place on a waiting list or to ask questions. “All three places are doing the vaccine,” she said, referring to public health, the Johnson Clinic and Heart of America Pharmacy, “So, people can get on a list anywhere.”

Information about the vaccine and waiting list placement is available at HAMC’s COVID Hotline, (701) 776-5455 extension 2201; Lake Region District Health Unit’s Pierce County office at (701) 776-6783, extension 6 or at Heart of America Clinic Pharmacy at (701) 776-2531.

Information on the vaccine from Thrifty White Drug Pharmacy is available at www.thriftywhite.com by clicking the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccine button.

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