‘Unfavorable conditions’ don’t delay COVID-19 vaccine distribution in South Dakota

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The wind and snow isn’t slowing the COVID-19 vaccine distribution in South Dakota. 

By Wednesday, more than 48,000 South Dakotans have received at least one dose of the vaccine and South Dakota continues to rank near the top in vaccine distribution. Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon highlighted a recent example of why the state continues to be efficient in using its roughly 11,000 doses per week. 

Malsam-Rysdon said last week’s allocation was delayed when it arrived in Sioux Falls on Friday afternoon. Because of the delay, Fed Ex had to find new drivers to help deliver the vaccine to Watertown, Mobridge and Rapid City. 

“All the vaccine that we got at 4:30 p.m. was delivered across this state, in some unfavorable conditions, by 12:15 a.m.,” Malsam-Rysdon said during Wednesday’s media briefing. “There’s so many people that are willing to help to be part of the solution. That’s going to help us be successful.” 

In less than nine hours, the vaccine was distributed from the Sioux Falls airport to Rapid City (346 miles), Mobridge (302 miles) and Watertown (103 miles). 

Health officials said the vaccine distribution remains in Phase 1D, starting with people 80 years of age and over, high risk patients with dialysis or active cancer and high risk residents in congregate settings. The entire population of Phase 1D is estimated at 265,000 people and the state is only receiving 11,000 doses of vaccine per week. 

“If we don’t see increases in allocations, it’ll impact how quickly we can get through that population,” Malsam-Rysdon said. 

No severe reactions from COVID-19 vaccine, 2 deaths believed not to be linked  

While there’s been more than 58,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine injected into 48,000 South Dakotans, state epidemiologist Joshua Clayton said the state hasn’t heard of any severe reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. He added the state keeps in constant contact with health systems who administer the vaccine and monitor for reactions.  

Dr. Clayton did say two people died more than 24 hours after getting the vaccine injected. 

“It has not been identified that the COVID vaccine has been involved,” Dr. Clayton said about the two deaths. “We do continue to monitor for all impacts and adverse reactions from the COVID vaccine.”  

The two deaths happened in Hutchinson County and Pennington County. One person had not previously been infected with COVID-19 and the other was considered recovered from COVID-19. 

State preparing for UK strain of COVID-19 

Dr. Clayton said the state is monitoring for the newer strains of the coronavirus. He pointed out the UK strain has been found in more than 30 countries and in 20 states, including surrounding states Minnesota and Wyoming. 

“It’s projected to be the dominant variant in the United States in March,” Dr. Clayton said. “Due to the higher rate of transmission, it’ll likely lead to more cases.”

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