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The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) announced today that North Dakota has been selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of four states to be part of a pilot project to plan for distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is not a vaccine trial.

"North Dakota was selected because of the strength of our immunization program,” said NDDoH Immunization Program Manager Molly Howell. "Our teams have been working for weeks on a plan and we’re thrilled to supplement that work with this partnership with the CDC and the Department of Defense to plan and prepare for the COVID-19 vaccination response in North Dakota."

In addition to planning for vaccine distribution to the public at large, the CDC is interested in learning from tribal entities to explore strategies to reach American Indian populations and help determine opportunities as it relates to vaccine planning and distribution. All five tribal entities and the ND Indian Affairs Commission are invited to participate in the planning process.

One of the responsibilities of the NDDoH is to develop and implement plans and methods for getting medications to people as effectively and efficiently as possible in case of a pandemic.

Topics to be discussed during the pilot project with CDC include how a vaccine shipment gets to North Dakota, how it’s transported within the state, how it’s stored and inventoried, how it’s transported at the proper temperature so it doesn't spoil and who administers it.  The NDDoH is working to fine tune existing plans to ensure a successful rollout to the public.

When a vaccine becomes available, the federal government will provide general guidance on how to prioritize and distribute the vaccine. Howell said her team and other partners will take that broad guidance and implement it in North Dakota.

“Planning with North Dakota and other pilot sites will inform and support other states planning for coronavirus vaccine,” Howell said.

Meetings kick off this week in Bismarck. For more information on COVID-19, visit health.nd.gov/coronavirus.

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