FARGO — Health providers are concerned that the local supply of COVID-19 vaccine is beginning to surpass the demand and health providers are offering walk-in opportunities for people to come in for shots.

Essentia Health, Sanford Health and Fargo Cass Public Health all are offering times this week for walk-in vaccinations announced last week the availability of some walk-in vaccination times to make it more convenient for people to get vaccinated.

“We know the vaccine uptake is still far below what we’d like it to be,” Dr. Doug Griffin, Sanford’s vice president and chief medical officer, said Tuesday, April 6. “We have concerns that people might not be as eager to get the vaccine as we hoped they are.”

Sanford now is administering about 4,000 to 5,000 shots per week at vaccination centers in Fargo and Moorhead, double or almost triple the numbers from earlier, he said.

Demand for vaccines has been steady but the supply is increasing, Griffin said. “So we’re starting to get this mismatch. We’re concerned that the supply might start to outstrip the demand sooner than we had hoped. It’s way too early for that to be. We have a lot of people that are eligible and should receive a vaccine.”

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Thrifty White Pharmacy listed more than 1,200 vaccine openings at its drugstores in North Dakota as of midday Tuesday, and three openings in Minnesota.

Demand for vaccines has fallen off at Fargo Cass Public Health.

“We have seen a decrease in demand for appointments in our vaccine clinics,” said Holly Scott, a public health spokeswoman. “With 70 enrolled vaccine providers in Cass County, there are many options for residents to receive the vaccine, which could be a contributing factor.

"We are hopeful the recently announced walk-in clinics at the shared vaccination center will provide residents more flexibility to receive vaccine, especially in the younger age groups who are now also eligible,” Scott said.

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With the goal of increasing demand, health providers plan an education campaign to alleviate hesitancy among some to get vaccinated.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Griffin said. Many look to their physicians for guidance. So far, almost 90% of Sanford physicians have been vaccinated, along with 76% of staff, a number Sanford is working to increase.

Millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered nationwide, and severe adverse reactions are “extremely rare,” Griffin said.

Even those who have been infected and recovered should get vaccinated, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Griffin said. Vaccine responses have been thoroughly studied and provide more predictable protection than those who haven’t been vaccinated.

COVID-19 infections have been rising in recent weeks around North Dakota, Minnesota and much of the nation. In North Dakota, Fargo accounts for the vast majority of new cases.

In North Dakota, 29.5% of residents have received a full vaccine course. The state has opened vaccine eligibility to everyone ages 16 and up.

“I think the message is we’ve not beaten COVID yet,” Griffin said. “Vaccine is our opportunity to put it in the rearview mirror. If we don’t get a lot more people vaccinated, we’re going to be dealing with this a lot longer.”

Weekend and evening vaccinations and clinics at large employers are likely, Griffin said.

As of Tuesday, 34% of Clay County residents ages 16 and older had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 49.3% in Cass County, according to health officials.

Walk-in vaccine times

Sanford will be accepting walk-ins 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, and Thursday, April 8, at its vaccination center at 5100 14th Ave. S., the former Gordmans store in Fargo.

Sanford will also be accepting walk-ins 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, and Thursday, April 8, at the Moorhead Center Mall at 420 Center Avenue.

Essentia will have walk-in vaccine availability at the vaccination center in Fargo 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

The clinics are not limited to Sanford and Essentia patients.

Fargo Cass Public Health will have walk-in vaccinations Tuesday, April 6, from 5 to 7 .pm., (Pfizer - age 16 +) and Thursday, April 8, from 5 – 7 p.m., (Johnson & Johnson - age 18+).

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