Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa tribal band officials partnered with Carlton County Public Health and Human Services to host a public COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Black Bear Casino Resort on Thursday, April 1.

The clinic took place from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., with 500 first doses of the Moderna vaccine available. It was open to tribal members and county residents age 18 and older.

Of the 500 doses available, 455 were administered at Thursday's clinic.

According to officials at the site, the Band supplied the venue and vaccines, while Carlton County worked to coordinate the effort and provide additional staffing. Each department had roughly five public health staff members working the event.

“Both agencies were … wanting to get the job done,” Casey Johnson, Carlton County public health nurse and COVID-19 subject matter expert, said.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

A person walks to one of the pods where COVID-19 vaccine was administered at Black Bear Casino Resort’s Event Center on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
A person walks to one of the pods where COVID-19 vaccine was administered at Black Bear Casino Resort’s Event Center on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

The clinic took place in the Stoneybrook Hall event room at Black Bear. Johnson said they were able to use the large space to eliminate traffic and long wait times.

Duluth resident Steve Kiminski, 63, said the longest wait he experienced throughout the process was the 15 minutes he spent in observation following his shot.

“I was in and out in a hurry,” he said.

Health officials spent roughly two weeks planning for the event, and said they were thrilled with how smoothly the day ran. Pre-registration was encouraged, but Carlton County Public Information Officer Meghann Levitt said slots were left available for walk-ins as well.

“It was really easy,” Madelyn Farrell, 20, said.

Casey Johnson, Public Health Nurse and COVID-19 subject matter expert with Carlton County Public Health and Human Services, talks about the vaccination clinic at Black Bear on April 1, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Casey Johnson, Public Health Nurse and COVID-19 subject matter expert with Carlton County Public Health and Human Services, talks about the vaccination clinic at Black Bear on April 1, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Farrell lives near Moose Lake and said she heard about the clinic through a phone call and online. She works as a day care provider and was eager to receive her first shot.

Cloquet resident Melissa Demenge said numerous people in her family have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and she felt it was her duty to get the shot.

She said she is grateful no one in her family has died or been hospitalized, and that she felt obligated to test the vaccine before her two young children become eligible for a dose.

Fond du Lac Human Services Director Samuel Moose talks about the joint tribal/county vaccination clinic at Black Bear Casino Resort on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Fond du Lac Human Services Director Samuel Moose talks about the joint tribal/county vaccination clinic at Black Bear Casino Resort on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

According to Fond du Lac Band's human services director, Samuel Moose, tribal government entities have been collaborating with Carlton County throughout the pandemic, but this is their first joint COVID-19 vaccination site.

In addition to teaming up with the county, the Band is operating multiple vaccination clinics, focusing most heavily on people age 18-39 because that age range has the lowest percentage of vaccination.

Carlton County is also operating many vaccination clinics separate from the Band.

This story was updated at 4:40 p.m. April 1 with additional information about the number of COVID-19 vaccination doses administered. It was originally posted at 3:43 p.m. April 1.