WILLMAR — As of Tuesday, 48 percent of Kandiyohi County residents 16 and older have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, 11 points under the state vaccination rate of 59 percent.

At Tuesday's Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meeting, County Administrator Larry Kleindl and three commissioners strongly urged members of the public to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated.

"We are not getting as many people signing up to get vaccinated," said Kleindl. "We are strongly encouraging our employees to get vaccinated."

Larry Kleindl, Kandiyohi County Administrator (Submitted photo)
Larry Kleindl, Kandiyohi County Administrator (Submitted photo)

Commissioner Rollie Nissen, who survived a serious COVID-19 infection late last year, is also pushing for people to get the shots. He said while he did have some side effects from the two-shot vaccination, it was far better than what he suffered in the intensive care unit.

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Kandiyohi County Commissioner Rollie Nissen listens Jan. 5, 2021, at the first Board of Commissioners meeting of the year at the Health and Human Services building in Willmar. 

Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune
Kandiyohi County Commissioner Rollie Nissen listens Jan. 5, 2021, at the first Board of Commissioners meeting of the year at the Health and Human Services building in Willmar. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

"Believe me, the reaction is nothing like getting the actual disease," Nissen said.

Commissioner Steve Gardner said he has family members who decided not to get vaccinated and have since come down with COVID-19.

Newly elected Commissioner Steve Gardner is sworn in Jan. 5, 2021, at the first Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meeting of the year at the Health and Human Services building in Willmar. 

Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune
Newly elected Commissioner Steve Gardner is sworn in Jan. 5, 2021, at the first Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meeting of the year at the Health and Human Services building in Willmar. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

"It is not a joke any more," Gardner said.

Vaccinations are now widely available across the state, including in Willmar and across the region. On Tuesday, vaccinespotter.org was reporting open vaccination appointments at the Willmar Walgreens, Walmart and Thrifty White Pharmacy.

Kandiyohi County Public Health also continues to offer public drive-thru vaccination clinics. The next is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday at the Kandiyohi County Rescue Squad building at 1801 Highway 12 E. in Willmar. Registration is required and now open on the county's website.

"Get the shot. It is no big deal," Nissen said. "Getting the actual disease is a big deal and it is worth getting vaccinated."

All Minnesotans aged 16 and over are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Minnesota Department of Health.
All Minnesotans aged 16 and over are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Minnesota Department of Health.

Kleindl asked for those who are hesitant to be vaccinated or have questions to reach out to trustworthy sources of information.

"Call your doctor, call the pharmacy," Kleindl said. "Don't just go based off of social media, go with the science."

He also wants the commissioners to continue to play a role in reducing vaccine hesitancy in the county.

"I hope as commissioners, as you go to your meetings and other public events, you continue to encourage others," Kleindl said. "You guys have the ability to do that as elected officials, to play that role. You play a very important role in local government."

As the globe enters its second year fighting COVID-19, commissioners on the Kandiyohi County Board want the public to be vaccinated so the page can finally be turned on the pandemic.

Commissioner Corky Berg speaks Jan. 5, 2021, at the first Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meeting of the year at the Health and Human Services building in Willmar. Berg was elected chairman of the board for the upcoming term.

Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune
Commissioner Corky Berg speaks Jan. 5, 2021, at the first Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meeting of the year at the Health and Human Services building in Willmar. Berg was elected chairman of the board for the upcoming term. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

"Everyone wants to get back to normal, no matter who you are," said Commissioner Corky Berg. "The quickest way to do it is with vaccinations."

For related stories see Coronavirus.

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