On a busy Saturday, January 23, in Minot, Trinity Health administered COVID-19 vaccines to 924 patients in its single largest clinic to date.
Since receiving the first vaccine shipment in December, Trinity Health has administered shots to more than 1,400 healthcare workers during Phase 1A and more than 1,500 eligible patients during Phase 1B, based on the North Dakota Department of Health’s Priority Groups.
Trinity Health leadership anticipates moving through the Priority Group list quickly to vaccinate all who wish to benefit from protection against the virus. “We look forward to every shipment we receive, and we’ll take as much vaccine as we can get for our region. Our goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible. When we get vaccine doses, we act swiftly and deliberately to give them to people,” said Randy Schwan, Vice President at Trinity Health. “It is a little frustrating for our team and patients: The only thing slowing down vaccinations locally is the allocation we get from federal and state planners.”
Many patients who attended the clinic on Saturday expressed a common reaction to receiving the vaccine: relief. Getting their first dose was a welcome, long-awaited signal toward better days ahead.
I’ve been waiting patiently,” said John Ross, who received his first dose that morning. Melvin Boger was also “glad to get it done” and added that the shot didn’t hurt a bit.
Pauline Magnusson was “very excited” to receive her invitation for the vaccine and equally relieved to have the first dose under her belt. She also noted how many other patients were getting their shots that day. “I was surprised at how many people are here,” she said.
Some patients who received their shots reflected on how the vaccine gives them hope for getting together with family again. Alice Gilpatrick, whose son accompanied her to her vaccine appointment, noted how she will feel “more comfortable with the grandkids and the great grandbabies.” Husband and wife Vernon and Deanna Chrest both received their vaccines this weekend. “We were really relieved,” Mrs. Chrest said, “and hope to get back to normal.” Mr. Chrest added, “Maybe now we can go to the grandkids’ ball games; we had been watching them [livestream] on TV. It’s just not the same.”
Trinity Health’s clinics are designed to get patients vaccinated quickly and ensure they are safe and feeling well before they head home, all while maintaining social distancing and other safety guidelines. Early vaccine recipients noted that the process, like the shot, was fairly quick and painless. Mr. Ross described it as a “well-oiled machine.” Walter Piehl, who received his first dose on Saturday as well, said, “It went very well. In three weeks I’ll feel even better. Thank you to Trinity for being so efficient and getting this done in such a wonderful, organized fashion.”
Trinity Health receives vaccine shipments directly from the North Dakota Department of Health and follows federal and state guidelines to prioritize who gets the doses. Vaccine has been in limited supply so far, making it hard to predict how much will arrive or when.
At this point, vaccination for Phase 1B is by appointment only. When vaccine supply becomes available, Trinity Health will contact patients directly if they are identified as eligible.
Schwan explained, “Because we follow the State’s distribution plan based on Priority Groups, Trinity Health is not maintaining a waiting list at this time. Please do not call your Trinity Health provider to request the vaccine; we look forward to contacting you if you are identified within a Priority Group. And one more reminder to all of us: Please continue to follow the guidelines of wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing for everyone’s health and safety.”