FARGO — After the new strain of COVID was found in Minnesota, health experts are confident it could already be in North Dakota.

Dr. Doug Griffin, Sanford Health's chief medical officer, said the new strain is a mutation of the virus, much like what happens with the flu.

He added the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will protect against the strain, which Griffin expects will pop up soon in North Dakota, despite not being officially detected yet.

"Given the fact that (the strain's) in Minnesota, and the fact of how things have behaved, we're making the assumption, although we've not yet proven that (it's here)," he said.

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This way of thinking comes at a time when Sanford is starting to send out emails to people telling them their vaccine doses are ready for them to take.

Emails are prioritized by patients' health conditions and ages.

Even though Sanford is gearing up to start the next phase of the vaccine rollout, Griffin said there may not be enough doses at first.

"Our goal is to exhaust all of our supply of the vaccine as quickly as we can, when we get it," he said. "What we don't have much clarity on yet is how much vaccine we'll get and when we'll get it."

Griffin said the hospital has mostly gotten the Pfizer vaccine, but no doses of the Moderna vaccine.

He's hopeful they'll get some Moderna doses starting sometime next week.

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