As the access to the COVID-19 vaccine opens up to healthcare providers next week, some older North Dakotans say they’re having trouble getting theirs.

Right now, First District Health Unit in Minot says it’s aggressively vaccinating seniors that are 75 years and older. But another organization is doing all it can to make sure veterans are vaccinated as well.

“Initially I was going to wait and see if some other people had got it and to see what their experience was like,” said veteran Leonard Anderson.

Anderson says he was skeptical about the vaccine at first, but as time went on, he decided to be vaccinated. That created a new question: Where could he get it?

“I was watching people on the news and a lot of people desired to have the shot, but they didn’t have the shot or the shot wasn’t available,” he added.

Thanks to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Anderson didn’t have to look far.

Hundreds of veterans lined up Wednesday morning in Minot to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are administering the vaccine to all veterans in the state and our area in Minnesota. But today we called the Minot, Williston and Devils Lake area,” said Lindsey Bergo, a nurse manager at VA Medical Center.

Veterans make up 8% of North Dakota’s population and many of them fall into the high risk or vulnerable category.

Bergo says over 500 doses of the vaccine were available to those who served in the military.

Bergo added, “It’s an honor to be able to provide this to the veterans. There has been a lot of interest and to be able to reach as many as we can today is awesome.”

Bergo says they have the second doses for veterans accounted for and they will receive them on March 3.

Anderson says he looking forward to the freedom that the shots will bring him.

“It will help provide me some safety and protection, as well as peace of mind as far as the virus is concerned,” he said.

Bergo says they have given out about 3,500 vaccines to veterans in the state.

If you’re a veteran and are interested in receiving a shot, you can reach out to your local VA clinic.