Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital Administers First Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine
On the heels of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines, Avera has begun administering the first doses allocated by the state to local health care workers.
Vaccine clinics were held at Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital Sunday and Monday to begin the distribution process of the Moderna vaccine to these employees.
“These clinics were filled with joy and relief,” said Stephanie Reasy, Administrator and CEO of Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital. “It’s been a challenging year for our staff, patients, residents and the larger community. Having the vaccine available to frontline staff and emergency responders is something we have long anticipated – and we look forward to the day when it can be administered to everyone. We recommend that people get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them.”
Although there are many details that have not yet been released by the state in regards to vaccine roll out, Avera anticipates that the vaccine may become available to the general public in the spring of 2021.
“A safe and effective vaccine is a vital step toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” said David Basel, MD, Vice President of Avera Medical Group Quality. “The more people who get the vaccine, the closer we can get to ‘back to normal’ and see reduced illness and hospitalizations due to this virus. While masking and social distancing are important, a large number of people getting vaccinated is the only way this virus will get under control. The more people who get the vaccine, the more lives will be saved.”
The FDA has undergone a rigorous process to ensure the vaccines are safe and effective. “Avera and state health experts have monitored the vaccines’ progress and the data from the clinical studies and are confident in its safety and effectiveness,” Basel said.
Data on the vaccines is very promising, showing effectiveness levels as high as 95 percent. Side effects are generally mild and temporary, like headache, fatigue, mild fever and pain at the injection site. The first vaccine is approved for patients age 18 and older.
Vaccine allocation to states and locations is being based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state health officials, positivity rates, vaccine storage requirements, and national guidelines from the National Academy of Sciences as well as the Catholic Healthcare Association.
In South Dakota, the state health department is asking health systems, including Avera, to distribute the vaccine.
In Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, state health departments are working directly with vaccination sites for distribution.
Local health care workers and first responders participating in the clinics said they were grateful to be getting the vaccine.
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