Avera, Tribe increase number of people getting vaccinations

Registered Nurse Leanne Amdahl gives a COVID-19 shot to Vicki Solem, 70, of Flandreau. The number of people receiving vaccinations in the county in now in the hundreds.

More Moody County residents are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as the number of doses available in the county grows.
Avera Flandreau has gotten enough doses to start serving patients 65 and older, and the clinic vaccinated those 70 and older last week when it got 70 doses in.
“It’s changing constantly,” said Scott Hargens, Avera administrator. “If there’s an opportunity for us to get extra … we will request those.”
At the clinic, individuals check in and are vaccinated in a room where they sit a distance from each other and also wait 15 minutes after the shot before they leave.
Vicki Solem, 70, is retired from the clinic and was happy to be able to get her first shot of the vaccine last week. “I’ve been waiting,” she said.
State data shows that 636 people who live in the county have received vaccinations, as of Monday. That includes 288 people who have received both doses and 348 people who have received the first dose.  That totals 924 shots.
Those numbers earn the county a 35th place ranking for number of people who have gotten shots. Comparatively, Moody County is the 27th largest in population.
But those numbers don’t include hundreds of shots given at the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s clinic. Those doses come from the federal Indian Health Services and are not part of the state’s total.
The tribal clinic has vaccinated 272 people, including clinic staff, elders, emergency responders and native language speakers. The clinic is accepting anyone ages 55 and older who hasn’t been vaccinated and this week will add people ages 18 to 63 who have at least two underlying medical conditions.
The clinic is scheduling 100 people a week, 50 for first-time doses and 50 who are getting the booster, said Cynthia Jacobs, chief executive officer.
The clinic is calling people and trying to contact anyone of its 1,700 patients who are eligible to receive a shot from tribal health. Jacobs is encouraging anyone who needs a vaccination to call the clinic and schedule an appointment.
The shots need to be scheduled because once a vial of doses is opened, it must be used within six hours. The clinic has not had to waste any of the doses it has gotten and has plenty of vaccine available, she said.
The clinic has not yet started vaccinating all employees who qualify at the Royal River Casino but has given shots to educators and staff at Flandreau Indian School.
Among clinic staff, nearly 50 of the 65 employees have received their vaccinations so far, and some are waiting to get shots, which are not mandatory.
The tribe started vaccinating people Dec. 22, one day after receiving its first vials. This week is the ninth week of vaccinations.
The clinic has a higher number of vaccines each week.
“The way our vaccine was distributed was based on the number of active eligible patients being seen here,” she said. “I feel confident that anyone who wants a vaccine will get one.”
As of Monday, the number of positive cases in the county were at 612, compared with 608 a week earlier. Of those cases, 588 have recovered and 8 are still active. The county has had 16 deaths and 45 people who have required hospitalization.
An additional 1,726 tests have come back negative.
The Flandreau school reported no active cases of COVID-19 on Monday. The school has had 45 students and 24 staff members who have recovered from the virus.

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