Retail Pharmacy Program injects some hope

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — More than 50 local pharmacies across South Dakota are administering doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Through the CDC’s retail pharmacy program, the goal is to expand vaccine accessibility to the general public.

Beverly Harder has been waiting months to get her shot at the COVID-19 vaccine.

“My husband already has had the shot, so I was waiting for my turn to take and do it,” Beverly Harder said.

She says she had been waiting on her doctor to let her know when she’d be eligible, but after a month of hearing nothing, she decided to reach out herself.

“I investigated here at Lewis and they said that they would be open,” Harder said.

She set up her appointment online and, just a couple days later, is getting her vaccine at the Lewis Drug Pharmacy on 41st and Marion.

“Once they get here, we reconfirm who they are, we verify an ID just so we know who we have in front of us,” Heer said.

After some quick screening questions, she rolled up her sleeves and got her first injection.

“It was easy as could be. There was no… big deals. Just taking it and waiting till he was ready and do it and getting out of there,” Harder said.

This accessibility is made possible for people like Harder thanks to the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. It’s a partnership between the federal government and all pharmacies in the U.S. to get the vaccine out fast and efficiently. Kyle Heer is the store’s chief pharmacist and has been giving the shots himself for over a month.

“It’s been very educating. Very gratifying, in a way, to know that we are providing this service to the public. It’s given us a chance to provide a service where we are needed most,” Heer said.

He says that there’s over 30 Lewis Pharmacies in South Dakota where people can get their vaccine.

“We currently have both, at times. It kind of depends upon what comes to us. We’ve traditionally been doing most of the Moderna vaccines. We’ve also recently been doing some of the Johnson & Johnson as well,” Heer said.

Harder got the Moderna vaccine. She says she’s that taking this shot wont just improve her health, but her chances of visiting her 90-year-old mother who lives in a nursing home.

“It’s really for her. It’s for my health, but it is for her too. So, I’m excited about the possibilities of this all opening up the chances to take and do more visiting with her,” Harder said.

She’s been able to visit her during the pandemic with heavy limitations.

“You know… it’s just the limitations that are put in there: behind plexiglass instead of close-up visits and that kind of thing. I’d love to go to her room and see her there and visit with her there,” Harder said.

She goes back for her second shot in four weeks. For those still looking to get their first, Heer says that’s up to the public to check for times and their eligibility.

“There’s no set schedule to when the time slots open, so the only way to really know is to regularly check that unfortunately. It’s all based on when we receive shipments in from the government, actually, and then as soon as we get those slots open we can actually get our distribution put together as far as for getting it out to our out-of-town stores or even our in-town stores for that matter,” Heer said.

When it comes to people deciding on whether or not to take the vaccine, Harder had this to say:

“Let them make the decisions through on their own life, but if it helps control what is going on, I would say it’s good for most people to do it,” Harder said.

With every shot comes another step on getting back to normal.

“I’m glad I got this one done and scheduled, and now I’m ready for the second one and, hopefully, things will even open up even a little bit more with nursing homes and everything for freedom of doing that,” Harder said.

Click here to check your eligibility and sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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