Optimism is high at a new Rapid City COVID-19 vaccination clinic, where Monument Health is vaccinating 900 people a day.
The temporary clinic is in an empty department store in the Rushmore Mall.
On Friday, the parking lot was full. There was a steady stream of older people. Workers quickly checked them in and directed them to a socially distant seating area. Everybody wore a mask.
Yvonne McCann is one of the workers who checks in patients.
“It is so exciting, I can’t tell you,” McCann said. “These people are coming out in their wheelchairs and their walkers. They’re so thrilled to get this vaccine. So we’re thrilled for them, too.”
Within minutes, new arrivals were called over to a row of curtained vaccination areas.
One of the patients was Joan Petersen. She got the first of two doses.
“I’m glad I did,” Petersen said. “I hope everyone does. It’s painless. They’re very organized, and if we can stop this COVID by everybody getting vaccinated, it’d be nice.”
U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, was watching. It was his first tour of a vaccination clinic.
“But this is not going to be my last,” Johnson said. “Because there is almost a giddiness here that you normally associate with kindergarten classrooms. I mean, people are really happy to be here.”
South Dakota is currently vaccinating people 65 and older, plus other people in high-risk categories. People in western South Dakota can add their name to a wait list for the vaccine at VaccineRegister.Monument.Health. Or they can call (605) 755-1350. Monument Health notifies people onthe list when they’re eligible for vaccination. The federal government provides the vaccines for free.
Statewide, about 120,000 people have received at least one vaccine dose so far.
-Contact reporter Seth Tupper by email.