Rolette County Public Health seeing spike in COVID vaccinations amid upcoming US-Canada border changes

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The U.S.-Canada border has been closed for over a year now in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

As some restrictions begin to lift, one public health center is seeing an increase in vaccinations — and some people will soon be able to cross the border once again.

Renae Henderson explained, “There was a little bit of rumble out on the street about the Canadian port being opened.”

That rumble was confirmed Monday after the Public Health Agency of Canada announced an easing of border restrictions.

Effective July 5, fully vaccinated Canadian citizens can cross back and forth over the border, while foreign travelers still have to follow restrictions set in place.

Henderson, the Rolette County Public Health Director of Nursing, says they’re seeing an increase in state-side people getting vaccinated.

“They’re trying to be prepared and decided that today’s the day to get the vaccine if that is coming in the future,” she said.

Over the last couple of weeks, Rolette County Public Health has given about 20 doses to people between the ages of 30 and 50 — an age range she says has dwindled in participation over the last few months.

“I do feel like that was kind of a push for them,” Henderson explained. “I had a couple of people say, ‘I want to go fishing’ and whether it’s going to be ice fishing or summer fishing, they’ve pretty much accepted that this is the way it’s going to be.”

An acceptance Mohall resident Sarah Lage says she’s all for.

“It’s worth it for me. I had been holding off on getting it because it’s so new,” Lage said.

But having family in Canada that she hasn’t seen in over a year, and being that she is a soon-to-be dual-citizen, getting the vaccine, for her, became a no-brainer.

“We were actually on base this morning and I went and got my first vaccination because I’m not messing around,” she said. “If I could cross that border the second I have approval from the government, immigration-wise, I’m going to see my kids and getting the rest of my belongings.”

While border-talk has shown a small spike in vaccinations being administered, Henderson says their efforts to get more people on board don’t stop here.

“I think people are realizing that this is the only way out, I think, is the vaccine. As we see the number of COVID vaccines going out the door and being given, the number of cases are going down and there’s a definite correlation there that we can’t dispute,” Henderson said.

Border restrictions on non-essential travel, such as tourism, have been extended until July 21.

Again, the change coming on July 5 applies to fully-vaccinated Canadian residents only.

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