Monument Health Rapid City ready to begin administering COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Pending FDA approval, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t happen, Monument Health will receive it’s first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine next week.
975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be delivered early next week to Monument Health. The state has already earmarked the first doses for frontline health and long-term caregivers. Although other counties have Monument facilities, complicated storage has made transportation difficult.
“The vaccine is really tricky, from a storage standpoint,” said Director of Pharmacy, Dana Darger. “It requires a minus 70 to minus 90 degree freezer, which is what’s called ultra cold. And in western South Dakota right now there’s two of them. We have one here up in surgery and there’s one in surgery up in Spearfish. So those are the only two places we can truly store the vaccine for any period of time.”
Fortunately, the Moderna vaccine will be distributed the following week, and has much more accommodating storage requirements. Still, there are a limited number of vaccines which may not be available for the general public until next spring.
“I wish this could be a Christmas present that I could send to everyone in the United States,” said Darger. “That there would be enough vaccine out there for everyone, but we probably won’t be down to the general public, the people that aren’t frontline healthcare workers until probably April, May, maybe June.”
Medical professionals still highly recommend basic safety precautions until individuals can be vaccinated.
“We keep saying, wear the mask, keep your distance, stay safe, and then when the vaccine comes, you’ve saved yourself from getting the infection,” said Vice President of Medical Affairs, Dr. Shankar Kurra. “Just because you have the infection, you don’t move forward. The groups are decided based on who’s taking care of the sick, and who is at high risk, and that’s how the groups are decided.”
Experts encourage everyone to get vaccinated, both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine have proven over 90 percent effective with no long term effects. A small number of individuals had allergies, but experts say this is normal of vaccines, and is not life threatening.
Additionally, other companies are currently working on vaccines that should be ready for distribution in the near future. They will also be offered at no cost to patients, even those without health insurance.