COVID-19 vaccinations have begun for local healthcare workers and first responders and expectations are that vaccinations will be available for the general population in the Marshall County area by late February.
“We vaccinated 122 people the end of December that included staff at the hospital, Spruce Court, and Wheatcrest Hills,” said Marshall County Healthcare Center Administrator Nick Fosness. “We expect to get 30-36 doses this week and are looking forward to being able to vaccinate residents at Wheatcrest and Spruce Court.”
Two doses of the vaccine must be administered with 28 days between doses. Second doses for those who have received the vaccine are already scheduled.
“The big questions we’ve been fielding are relative to when the general public is going to get the vaccine,” added Fosness. “At this point in time the best information we have is that when it is distributed to us we will get it out right away. It will probably be the end of February before the next levels of the public will be starting to receive the vaccine.”
Area residents may keep updated on vaccine availability on the MCHC Facebook page. MCHC is also adding an option on its phone answering system that will provide updates every week.
Vaccines are being distributed through Monument Health in Rapid City, and Sanford and Avera based out of Sioux Falls. The vaccine being distributed locally is the Moderna vaccine which has a better shelf life without requiring a really low storage temperature.
Fosness said of the vaccinations given to date there have been very few issues.
“There have been very minimal side effects other than a flu shot-like sore arm. People can do their own research, but in my opinion day-to-day life as we know it carries way more risks than the vaccine.”
Fosness acknowledged that there are plenty of opinions about the vaccine.
“I would encourage everyone to do their own research from reputable sources such as the CDC, the South Dakota Department of Health, or the Avera web site,” stressed Fosness. “Everyone has to decide whether to trust science, politicians, or Facebook. I am going to trust those that went to school the longest. Nine-five percent efficacy of the vaccine are odds I’m willing to take in combating COVID.”
COVID-19 cases in Marshall County have been dropping in recent weeks, but Fosness urges area residents to continue to use precautions.
“Things have definitely improved here, but there does seem to be another wave hitting around the country. We need to keep our guard up and continue our best prevention efforts – washing hands, staying socially distanced, and wearing a mask around others. Everybody wants this to be behind us, and the vaccine is promising. Research is showing that it’s working.”