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South Dakota Receives First Shipment of COVID-19 Vaccines


The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in South Dakota Monday morning.

The state received 78-hundred doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Most of them are staying in Sioux Falls, where frontline healthcare workers will receive the first of two doses.

Nearly three-thousand vaccine doses arrived in Avera’s shipping dock just before nine on Monday morning. Another three thousand went to Sanford, and 975 went to Monument Health in Rapid City.

Dr. David Basel is the Vice President of Clinical Quality with Avera Medical group. He explains why most of the initial shipment is staying in Sioux Falls.

“We’re starting with Pfizer mainly in the Sioux Falls area to keep it close to where the ultra-cold storage is for the Pfizer vaccine, because it does take the -70, -80 degree freezer temperatures. And so, since that is mainly located in Sioux Falls, that’s why that vaccine is preferentially in the Sioux Falls area. The Moderna is stable at refrigerator temperature much longer, so that’s going to make transportation to the rest of the state much easier.”

The FDA could give the Moderna vaccine emergency use approval later this week.

The vaccine is going out in phases, starting with healthcare workers in COVID units…intensive care…and long-term care settings.

Dr. Basel calls this a joyous day.

“This is our first really big step in getting past this, in our mind.”

Dr. Basel says the vaccine is 95% effective at keeping people from getting sick with COVID-19, but it’s not yet clear if it will stop someone from spreading the virus if they’ve been exposed.

That’s why it’s still important to wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands.

“The threat will be reduced, but it’s still there. So it’s gonna be important for several more months now to continue these efforts until we can really get it tamped down.”

The state expects to receive additional shipments each week.

The first 78-hundred vaccine recipients can expect their next dose in 21 days.

Jackie is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls Studio.