SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Over the past 10 months, many of us have been hoping and praying for a Vaccine for COVID-19. Now that it’s here, healthcare workers are still praying, this time, that it can help shift the tide in this ongoing battle.
As the Pfizer Vaccine rolled into Avera Monday morning, so did a great deal of emotions for Vice President of Supply Chain Sara Henderson.
“It was just this sense of overwhelming sense of relief and a sense of hope that we are getting to the point where we can return to some sort of normal, or, at least, keep these people protected,” Henderson said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on many emotional moments over the course of this past year, but before medical staff opened the shipment, they took one more moment to gather together and pray.
“As I was standing there, it really was almost a sense of calm. It was a sense of,’ Oh my gosh. We are here now: looking forward,'” Henderson said.
“It was really a grace and gift from God and so we wanted to acknowledge that first and foremost – just like when you sit down at a meal and pray before a meal,” Thomas said.
The prayer was led by Sister Mary Thomas. She read scripture from the book of Ephesians, comparing the vaccine to donning the armor of God.
“I thought this would be something that would speak to what we are embracing and clothing ourselves with in this vaccine,” Thomas said.
She also said a prayer for health care workers: those who took the vaccine, those who administered it, and those who got COVID-19.
“They were kind of our teachers, unfortunately, and some were able to live to tell the tale and others didn’t but we still honor all of them,” Thomas said.
She then blessed the vaccine with Holy Water as a symbol to cleanse us of the virus.
“And it’s not just for this box, obviously, it’s for every box all across the world,” Thomas said.
“It’s just a relief to see this potential end in sight – that we can get back to some sort of a normal,” Hendersen said.
Injecting hope in a time where, to some, it seemed lost.
“I am just forever grateful to all of the people who… have held a light in the darkness; they kept holding that light for each other. They kept supporting one another through thick and thin, and, I think, we’ve become a better people,” Thomas said.
Henderson goes on to say that there’s still a ways to go before everyone who needs the vaccine can get it, but that this is a big step in the right direction.
What to know about the COVID-19 vaccine in South Dakota
Who is charge of the vaccine distribution?
The South Dakota Department of Health developed a 64-page COVID-19 vaccination plan. According to the plan, the DOH has communication with leaders from 32 “points of dispensing” throughout the state.
Who gets a vaccine first in South Dakota?
There is a 3 phase approach of vaccine administration — all focused on allocation.
- Phase 1: “Potentially Limited Doses Available”
- Phase 2: “Large Number of Doses Available, Supply Likely to Meet Demand”
- Phase 3: “Likely Sufficient Supply, Slowing Demand”
Throughout Phase 1 and Phase 2, South Dakota’s three primary health care systems — Avera, Sanford and Monument Health — will provide the vaccination services to “priority populations.”
Who is in Phase 1 of getting the vaccine?
The state determined through an allocation criteria four key priorities
- Risk for acquiring infection
- Risk of severe outcome due to infection
- Risk of negative societal impact
- Risk of of transmitting infection to others
Based on that criteria, health care workers, first responders and older adults living in congregate settings will receive the first vaccines as described in Phase 1A and Phase 1B.
When will vaccine be available for me?
On Jan. 6, the SD DOH released a new document showing when it expected vaccine availability for certain groups in South Dakota. You can see that document below. Phase 1D, which includes people two underlying health conditions, people 65-years or older and teachers, is expected to start in February. Vaccine for all South Dakotans, isn’t expected until May 2021.
Who has the vaccine in my county?
While the SD DOH oversees the vaccine the distribution, five different health systems have been charged in overseeing vaccine distribution and administration in their area. The five systems are Avera, Sanford, Monument, Mobridge Hospital and Northern Plains Health Network.