COVID-19 vaccine set to arrive in Pennington County next week

RAPID CITY, S.D.  — Monument Health expects to take delivery of the new COVID-19 vaccine next week.

The South Dakota Department of Health has instructed that the initial shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be administered to front-line caregivers in Pennington county.

The Pfizer vaccine received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, and the first box of 975 doses are anticipated to arrive early next week. The day after the doses arrive, Monument Health will begin administering the vaccine.

“This will be an historic day. COVID-19 has caused so much illness and disruption throughout much of 2020, and these vaccines will mark the beginning of the end of this pandemic,” said Paulette Davidson, President and CEO of Monument Health. “It’s important to remember, however, that it will take months to manufacture enough doses for widespread public vaccination, so we must continue to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19.”

On the heels of the Pfizer vaccine, another maker, Moderna, is expected to win EUA and begin shipping its vaccine. More COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of development, and could be available in coming months.

The Department of Health, under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), has directed the state’s three large health care systems — Sanford Health, Avera Health and Monument Health — to use a phased approach to administer the vaccine.

Phase 1A includes staff at nursing homes and long-term care centers as well as hospital caregivers who provide medical care and other services directly to COVID-19 patients.

It is estimated that more than 3,000 people in western South Dakota qualify for the 975 initial doses, but new shipments are expected to arrive regularly in the coming weeks. Also, both vaccines require a second dose 21 (Pfizer) or 28 days (Moderna) after the first shot.

Vaccination is not mandatory for caregivers. However, Monument Health strongly encourages all of those in the priority groups to consider taking it.

Following closely behind this group will be full-time emergency medical service providers. The reasoning for the vaccination priorities is that a healthy medical workforce is needed in order to care for the most vulnerable members of the community. Phase 1B includes older adults in congregate housing, anyone with medical conditions that put them at risk for COVID-19 complications and first responders such as law enforcement officers.

In Phase 2 and later phases, smaller providers, private clinics, rural health providers, pharmacies and employers will be able to administer the vaccine to the public.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News