Carlton County public health officials stressed the importance of receiving both the flu and coronavirus vaccine with the current state of the county’s available hospital beds and high coronavirus mission rate at a dual flu and COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

Ali Bachinski, emergency preparedness coordinator for Carlton County, said the importance of vaccinating yourself is to protect yourself, your family and your community.

“We know that the (coronavirus) vaccine is very effective, 98% of fully vaccinated individuals are still not getting breakthrough disease,” she said.

The current coronavirus vaccination rate in the county is 70.4% for ages 12 and up.

The vaccination drive had 255 registrations online for the first day, which is required to receive a shot, with 10 of them being for a coronavirus vaccine.

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Ali Bachinski, Carlton County emergency preparedness coordinator.
Ali Bachinski, Carlton County emergency preparedness coordinator.


“We are still living in a pandemic, so as we move into flu season it is very important to protect yourself against respiratory viruses,” she said.

With low availability of hospital beds statewide, Bachinski said it is important to get both vaccinations as someone could be hospitalized for the flu. Only 0.06% of those hospitalized for coronavirus in the state have been vaccinated.

The county health department does not currently offer booster shots for the Pfizer vaccine, but Bachinski said there are numerous other places for those interested.

Meghann Levitt, public health public information officer for Carlton County, said the drive-thru clinics, which began last fall, have been a success and received positive feedback from attendees.

Despite only 10 people signed up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Levitt said each vaccination brings the county’s rate up.

“That’s 10 more people looking to provide community protection,” she said.

Dave Lee, director of public health and human services for Carlton County, spoke at Carlton County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Oct. 12, and said the county is waiting to see if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decides to allow children from ages 5-11 to receive the vaccine later this year.

Carlton County public health nurse Michelle Janowiec injects a vaccine into the arm of a motorist at the county’s drive-thru clinic Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, at the Carlton County Transportation Facility in Carlton, Minn.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Carlton County public health nurse Michelle Janowiec injects a vaccine into the arm of a motorist at the county’s drive-thru clinic Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, at the Carlton County Transportation Facility in Carlton, Minn. Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Should a decision on that come later this year, Levitt said the county would consider another vaccine drive for children.

“Before we make any major decision like that, we touch base with our health care and tribal partners to figure out where the needs are and where we will be most efficient," she said.

The county is working on a campaign, through social media and billboards, to try and reach people who have still not gotten the coronavirus vaccine.

“The general public often hears a lot of the negative, and they don’t hear a lot of the positive statistics,” she said. “We are going to be highlighting those positive statistics that they don’t see regularly.”

Levitt said the 18-44 age range has the lowest vaccination rate in the county, which is the group that would be targeted with the campaign.

During last year’s drive-thru flu vaccine clinic, the county had over 700 people attend. Levitt said the pace is slower this year, but the county will know more once the event is over.

“It is hard with the flu vaccine as so many places have it — people may choose to go into their clinic,” she said.

The county is hosting another drive-thru vaccination clinic from 2:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14, at 3888 County Road 61 in Barnum.

More information about registration can be found on the county’s website. While no other clinics are currently scheduled, Bachinski said the county plans to hold more in the future.