It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for, the COVID-19 vaccine is officially in South Dakota. Avera Health received the first shipment Monday morning with about 3,000 doses from Pfizer.
A box arrived at Avera Hospital at about 8:45 this morning with the vaccine. It came directly from Pfizer’s plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Workers unloaded the box packed with dry ice and transferred the vaccine into special freezers to keep it at the desired 70 to 80 degrees below zero. Small scale vaccination began early this afternoon at the main Avera campus in Sioux Falls.
“I cannot over emphasize how much how much eagerness, excitement and frankly joy we are seeing in our health care providers clear across our system. This is the first, you know really big step towards getting past this in our minds, said Doctor David Basel, Avera’s Vice President of Clinical Quality.
Front line health workers who are putting their lives and long-term health at risk are the first to get the vaccine.
Several Avera doctors, nurses and hospital cleaning staff members volunteered to get the vaccine first. Dr. Jawad Nazir, Dr. Anthony Hericks, and Deb Stansbury were the first to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
We asked Doctor Basel about when people with loved ones in nursing homes could expect to see the vaccines in those facilities.
“As part of this first shipment of vaccine that came in, it’s going to be those front line health care providers, ICU and Covid floor, also long term care staff. So there are studies that show vaccinating the staff that are going from room to room is the most effective way to keep it from spreading in the nursing home”, said Dr. Basel.
In a couple of weeks Basel says they will transition to vaccinating nursing home residents.
He expects the Moderna vaccine will arrive in about a week. Since it can be stored in common refrigerators, it’s easier to transport to smaller communities.
For those getting the shot today, it will be 7 to 14 days before they will be partially protected. Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines require two doses to provide maximum protection.
Doctors say we need to continue to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. For most people, it won’t be until this spring before the vaccine is available. Sanford Health expects about 3,100 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in Sioux Falls on Tuesday.