City, health officials: Be patient waiting for COVID-19 vaccine

Jan. 11, 2021

In about two weeks, more than 250,000 South Dakotans could become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine – but at the pace it’s arriving, it will take awhile to get through them, city and health officials said today.

Vaccines currently are being given to group 1C, as designated by the state, which includes law enforcement and some health care workers.

By February, the plan is to move into 1D, which includes people 65 and older, those with two or more underlying medical conditions, residents in congregate settings, educators and funeral service workers.

“Guess what — we get 11,000 doses a week. It’s going to take us awhile to get to 1D, and we’re not going to get to everyone in 1D right off the bat,” said Dr. David Basel, vice president for clinical quality at Avera Medical Group.

The 1D group might be subprioritized to take the oldest individuals or other subpopulations first, but that hasn’t been determined, he said.

“We want to get vaccine in people’s arms as quickly as possible,” Basel said.

AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson also have vaccines coming, pending federal approval, which could make the process go faster, he said.

“We do see some relief potentially of additional doses of more vaccines coming,” Basel said.

Avera and Sanford Health will notify patients through their electronic medical records when they are eligible for the vaccine, or the public can watch media reports or visit for that information. You will not have to be a patient at either system to receive the vaccine there.

The city hasn’t seen much of a surge in COVID-19 cases from the holidays, Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

“We’re almost two weeks since New Year’s Eve parties, and things still have been fairly manageable,” he said. “Most importantly, our hospitalizations have continued to trend down, and the last two days have been below 80 between our two health care partners. It’s been quite awhile since we’ve been below 80.”

The monoclonal antibody treatments being used for higher-risk patients appear to be helping reduce hospitalizations, said Dr. Mike Wilde, chief medical officer for Sanford USD Medical Center.

“It’s not a completely effective treatment, but we do see some good trend,” Wilde said.

The numbers have flattened in recent days, Basel agreed, while adding “a third of our hospital is still full of COVID-related patients … so there’s still a long ways to go in this fight,” he said.

State COVID update includes estimates for vaccine availability

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City, health officials: Be patient waiting for COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccines are coming — but city and local leaders say you’ll have to be patient until the pace picks up.

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