All Itasca area residents and visitors age 12 and older may access COVID-19 vaccines at medical facilities, pharmacies and special events throughout the county.  For those who would like to go back to fall sports or return to work in-person in September fully vaccinated, the time to schedule a vaccination is now.

More than half (54%) of Itasca County residents ages 12 and older have received at least their first dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines.  Vaccinations have contributed to the county’s infection rate dropping to recent lows of 4.2 per 10,000 residents.  Other neighboring counties, however, are seeing spikes in cases due to the appearance of the virus’ Delta variant and lower vaccination rates.  While the trends in Itasca County have been better, risks to those who are unvaccinated remain serious.

“One year ago, Itasca County saw its case rates spike to very high levels,” said Kelly Chandler, Itasca County Public Health division manager.  “We know much more about how to reduce the spread of COVID now and the vaccines have proven their safety and effectiveness.  Still, nearly half of our neighbors and all children under 12 have not yet been vaccinated.  As you gather with friends and family over the Fourth, please keep their safety in mind. By staying strong against COVID-19, we gain freedom.”

In addition to vaccines available through local clinics and pharmacies, special vaccine events are ongoing throughout the county.  Current opportunities are featured at the county’s website, www.co.itasca.mn.us.

Deer River students ages 12 and older are invited to a July 22 vaccination event at the Deer River High School gymnasium from 9 a.m. to noon, with the second dose of Pfizer scheduled for Aug. 12.  This will allow participating students to be fully vaccinated by the start of school.  Assistance with consent forms will be available at the event.

Itasca residents with questions or concerns may leave them at the Itasca County COVID message line, with calls returned 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  The Itasca COVID line number is 218-327-6784.

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