N.D. – It’s no secret nursing homes have been some of the hardest-hit spots during this pandemic. That’s why they are at the top of the list for vaccine distribution.

Missouri Slope, a long-term care center in Bismarck, is preparing residents for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Over the next two days, staff will collect waivers from residents and their loved ones to determine who will get the shot.

“We want everyone to make the best decision for themselves. The most informed decision and we want to be the one to provide that information,” said Karson Pederson, Communications Specialist for Missouri Slope Foundation.

As Missouri Slope gets ready to give the first round this week starting Wednesday, the North Dakota Long Term Care Association says education is key.

“We’ve talked to facilities and we’ve told them to educate, educate, educate with materials that we’ve sent out from the Department of Health and our association,” said Vanessa Raile, Director of Emergency Planning for the NDLTCA.

Since long-term care workers have already had their shots, residents receiving their first doses take top priority now.

Molly Howell with the Department of Health says it’ll take a few weeks to complete this phase.

“The pharmacies that are going into these long-term care facilities, they want to know ahead of time how many doses to bring with them so no doses go to waste,” said Howell, the Immunizations Program Manager.

Pederson says the vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel after a dark year.

“Just kind of get back to what we were before COVID and kind of try to move past this, Allow for visitation, allow for group activity. And just also allow us to interact with the residents in a very personal way,” shared Pederson.

Howell says the state’s plan is to go into long-term care facilities every three weeks to give residents their next round of shots or their first, if they decide to vaccinate later.