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After 32 years of service, Fargo Cass Public Health Director is retiring, stating that vaccination trends should be prioritized



Fargo, North Dakota – In July 2024, a significant employee of Fargo Cass Public Health will retire after 32 years of service.

Desi Fleming, the director of public health of Fargo Cass, declared that she plans to retire on July 5, 2024. Fleming began working with FCPH in 1992. She has held positions as a public health nurse, manager of public health nursing, director of nursing, and, as of 2018, director of FCPH.

“Regardless of the role, I’ve always taken pride in the work that I do, the people that I have served and the many connections I’ve made along the way. I have felt so very fortunate to be a part of this community and — within my role as a nurse and a leader — to be able to make an impact on the health of many lives.” said Fleming.

Fleming was also a person local and regional leaders sought the council of during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also “standing firm in the face of adversity” during uncertain times. Fleming says this is because FCPH had the support of everyone at first, but that slowly dipped as the pandemic progressed.

“We went through this period where we were really popular at the first part of it. Then we went through the part where people were tired of masks and tired of hearing of vaccines. Then there was that mistrust of Government and the CDC. That was really hard for us.”

The necessity of maintaining immunization rates was one important point Fleming want to emphasize. The North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services reports that a growing number of parents and families are choosing not to vaccinate their children for a variety of reasons. This includes philosophical or moral grounds, which 3.4% of all North Dakotan households, according to estimates from Q4 of 2023, gave as their explanation for not getting vaccinated. In the same period, 0.6% of all families were exempt due to religion.

Similar increases in exemptions were observed for adolescents in the state; over the same period, 5.97% of all teenagers were projected to have declined for this reason.

Not just COVID-19 dosages that are currently accessible are included in the data; all vaccines are considered. Fleming notes that the pattern is still present after additional vaccinations.

“Some of the routine vaccinations across our state and across the nation, the numbers are going down, Which is really-really scary and I don’t think people realize how scary that is.” said Fleming.