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Sanford, Avera prepare for first COVID-19 vaccine doses

Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 6:25 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - As the race for a vaccine begins to show promise of a finish line, South Dakota healthcare systems and officials are now preparing for doses to enter the state.

The South Dakota Department of Health has been working on a vaccine plan since August, concluding that healthcare workers will be the first to get the vaccine.

“The very first week allocation to be about 7,800. That means 7,800 people will be able to be vaccinated in that very first week,” said Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon.

Sanford Doctors say the vaccine could be in South Dakota in as little as 8-10 days, however, they must wait for federal approval to distribute it. In the meantime, they are preparing to store the doses.

“As soon as we heard of the possibility that this was going to be a potential vaccine, we started buying freezers. Particularly the super cold freezers that we needed,” Sanford Health’s Dr. Jeremy Cauwels said.

Avera says they’ve been clearing freezer space as well, which will be crucial for the specific environment these vaccines need.

“Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at very cold temperatures, -70, -80 and once it gets out of that super cold temperature it’s only stable for about five days so you have to give it pretty rapidly at that point. Whereas the Moderna vaccine is actually stable at refrigerator temps for about 30 days,” said Avera’s Dr. David Basel.

Although a vaccine rollout in the near future is showing promise, patience is still important.

“Until we can get to a population where 60, 70, at least north of 50 percent of people are vaccinated, we’re not going to have enough people vaccinated in the world to slow down the disease,” said Cauwels.

Cauwels also mentioned that the vaccine is a long-term solution, but how people act right now, determines the impact the virus will have for the next few months.

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