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North Dakota releases draft vaccination plan

North Dakota releases draft vaccination plan

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North Dakota met its Friday deadline for submitting to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a plan to distribute a future vaccine.

The state's COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Committee has been working on the plan for months based on CDC guidance to anticipate a phased availability of vaccines.

“North Dakota is ready to take action as soon as a safe and effective vaccine becomes available," Burgum said in a statement.

The 95-page plan outlines how a future vaccine will be prioritized, equitably allocated, distributed and administered in North Dakota. Security plans are redacted.

Goals listed in the plan include vaccinating 70% of the eligible population, ensuring that people who are determined to be highest priority are vaccinated first, and to "have vaccine allocation which is ethical and transparent."

It's not yet known whom the federal government will designate as high priority, though the state assumes the list will include residents of long-term care facilities and heath care workers. The state health department is enrolling health care providers who want to receive vaccine. The deadline is Oct. 23.

The CDC has designated three phases of vaccination: Phase 1 is low availability with priority vaccination, Phase 2 is high availability and vaccination of all population groups, and Phase 3 is high availability and slowing demand.

During Phase 1, large, urban areas will hold mass clinics for eligible groups. Phase 2 will continue a focus on large urban areas and add additional congregate settings such as group homes and prisons. In Phase 3, emphasis will be on private health care providers and pharmacies. A vaccine will be provided at no cost, though the state expects there to be an unknown administration fee.

American Indian tribes can choose to receive vaccine directly from the federal government or through the state’s allocation. A list in the state's plan shows that all medical facilities on reservations that have made a decision have chosen a state allocation.

A state Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination Ethics will help make decisions on vaccine allocations, according to the plan. It states that "it is not expected that the state will enact any mandates requiring vaccination for COVID-19. However, specific institutions or businesses may choose to mandate the vaccination of employees as a condition of employment."

The decision of mandating vaccinations for health care workers and long-term care workers "should be discussed by applicable institutions," the plan states. Many institutions have mandates in place for flu shots.

The plan can be found at health.nd.gov/covidvaccine. It will be updated as additional information about the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.

It's not known when a vaccine will be available. The state plan anticipates "fall or winter" as the earliest vaccine delivery date. A vaccine is not expected to be available at first for children or pregnant women.

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