The reality of getting a COVID-19 vaccine in South Dakota Original

FILE – This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer’s COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. On Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Two companies have announced promising preliminary results of COVID-19 vaccines. However, there are still many questions surrounding the vaccine and getting it to South Dakotans.

One Sioux Falls doctor is sharing his perspective on the outlook of South Dakota receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Wendell Hoffman is an Infectious Disease Specialist at Sanford Health.

“The news about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is very, very encouraging. I mean, if these numbers play out in the 90 percent plus range, this will be nothing short of spectacular,” Hoffman said.

According to the Associated Press, Pfizer said its vaccine was more than 94% effective in adults over age 65, though it is not clear how the company determined effectiveness in older adults, with only eight infections in the vaccinated group to analyze and no breakdown provided of those people’s ages.

Moderna, Inc. also announced that its experimental vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective as well.

But just because a vaccine is produced doesn’t mean everyone will receive it right away.

According to the South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon, the vaccinations will go first to frontline health care workers who care for COVID patients in hospitals and long-term care settings. She went on to say the next group will include residents in long-term care facilities.

“The problem is that we’re not going to have widespread vaccine available into the broad population for a number of months. We may have some vaccine by the end of the year, but 20 to 30 million doses, even if we get that much, in a population of 350 million potentially who might benefit from a vaccine. So that’s my point about building a bridge to the vaccine, and the bridge is those mitigating strategies,” Hoffman said.

The mitigating strategies Hoffman is referring to includes social distancing, wearing a mask, good hand hygiene and staying home when you’re sick.

“I mean you’d almost have to be living under a rock not to have heard this,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said having a vaccine would eliminate a multitude of concerns for people both financially and health-wise.

“It’s devastating. People are suffering, and it’s not that they’re so much afraid of dying. It’s that they’re afraid of, ‘How am I going to pay my bills? How am I going to get back to work?'” Hoffman said.

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