COVID-19 vaccination in shelters and transitional housing

KELOLAND.com Original

Tina Killebrew, a certified medical assistant, prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The makers of COVID-19 vaccines are figuring out how to tweak their recipes against worrisome virus mutations — and regulators are looking to flu as a blueprint if and when the shots need an update. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As vaccine roll-outs continue across the nation, KELOLAND News is taking a look at one of our most vulnerable populations.

For those staying in shelters and transitional housing, the risk from the virus is often increased due to the close proximity of the living arrangements, as well as the comings and goings of people throughout the day.

This risk also extends to the staff that serves these populations. Fortunately, all of these people are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, falling under category 1D of the state’s vaccination plan.

1D encompasses high risk patients such as those who are undergoing dialysis, post-transplant and active cancer treatment, persons aged 65 years and older (beginning on Feb. 22) and high risk residents in congregate settings.

South Dakota DOH
South Dakota Department of Health vaccine availability timeline

KELOLAND News spoke with Sioux Falls Public Health Manager Sandy Frentz, who told us that in the city of Sioux Falls, residents and staff at the St. Francis House, Union Gospel Mission, Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, the Arch and the Glory House have all gotten the opportunity to receive their first dose of a COVID vaccine.

Frentz said the opportunity to get the second dose with be coming over the course of the next two weeks, and that this will be a “standing opportunity” so that those who may have declined the first time around will still have the option to be vaccinated.

We reached out to the state Department of Health in search of the amount of vaccinations received by this group, but were told such numbers were unavailable due to the shifting population in this type of transitional housing.

The state was also unable to say how many doses of the vaccines were allocated for distribution to those in congregate housing, as they are grouped with the full number of phase one doses. They say that they are continuing to work with their phase one vaccinators to ensure persons in these settings and/or with increased risk of transmission are receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

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