HURON — Employees of Huron Regional Medical Center (HRMC) and local long-term care facilities that had received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the first round of vaccines given in the region were able to receive their second dose Thursday at the HRMC auditorium.
The state is officially on phase 1C with first-time doses, according to the South Dakota Department of Health (DOH) in their weekly press briefing Wednesday, as they are expected to finish phase 1B, which consists of long-term care residents, within the next two weeks, per DOH Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon.
Phase 1C includes law enforcement and correctional officers, emergency medical services personnel, public health workers, and other healthcare workers, such as lab and clinic staff.
Those receiving second doses today were part of the 1A group in the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, which included front-line healthcare workers and long-term care facility healthcare workers.
Peggy Haas and Ruthie Songer, who work at The Wellshire, an assisted living facility in Huron, discussed their first dose of the shot.
“Other than my arm being a bit tender, I didn’t notice anything different (after the first dose),” said Haas, a housekeeper at the facility.
Songer, who works as a receptionist, echoed Haas and encouraged those concerned about the vaccine, “Anyone who is eligible should get this. I’d tell any of my friends or family to get their vaccine as soon as they can.”
The DOH reported in its Wednesday briefing that they had expanded their information on the COVID-19 dashboard found at doh.sd.gov/covid to include numbers that are updated immediately with current vaccinations as they are reported to the state. Through Thursday morning, that number was 618 for Beadle County and 31,473 for the state.
Of those who have been vaccinated, Beadle County now boasts 26 who have completed the two-shot series. The state has 842 total who have received both shots.
The DOH discussed the population numbers at each level of the phases, revealing that by the end of phase 1C, the current phase the state is on, nearly 80,000 state residents will be vaccinated, or just short of 10% of the population of the state.
The largest population group in the first phase is the next phase, phase 1D, which includes teachers, school staff, child-care workers, individuals at high risk for adverse health consequences, persons aged 65 years and older, residents in congregate settings, and funeral service workers. That phase alone will consist of more than 265,000 South Dakotans.
The schedule posted on the state’s website presently shows the second phase, which includes all those not included in the first phase and above 16 years of age, likely to begin in the summer, but Secretary Malsam-Rysdon was quick to point out that all projections right now are based on present vaccine allocation, which is approximately 10,000-11,000 doses per week to the state.
Other doses may be supplied through federal programs run by retail pharmacies or be administered through Indian Health Services.
Residents at Huron Avantara facilities have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine through Walgreens, and Secretary Malsam-Rysdon reported Wednesday that this could expedite the overall process of moving through phases.
South Dakota is currently leading the nation in vaccinated persons per 100,000 population, and Secretary Malsam-Rysdon credits the plan put together for vaccine distribution for efficient and widespread distribution going very well throughout the state.