Shots becoming more available in Moody County

Scott Hargens and Janii White with Avera Flandreau talk to Moody County Commissioners about the process of administering COVID-19 vaccinations.

Brenda Wade Schmidt Enterprise Avera Flandreau is starting to have vaccinations available for older residents and others with immune compromises. “We’ve got a report of several hundred people that we’re working through,” said Scott Hargens, hospital administrator. Staff are calling individuals to schedule times for the shots. “This particular age group, they’re great at answering the phone.” The hospital gets a batch of vaccine each week and is guaranteed that same amount of vaccine in four weeks when those who receive the Moderna vaccine need to return for their second shot. There still are many challenges in dispensing the vaccinations, he said. “It’s almost been a full year that we’ve been dealing with COVID in Moody County. There’s been so much we’ve learned from and grown from,” Hargens said. The hospital initially vaccinated health care workers, law enforcement and first responders, and long-term care and assisted living employees. Staff call other people on the list if there are doses available that have to be used up quickly or they would expire, he said. During the process, only one dose was wasted, Hargens said. “We’re excited to get this out in the community. People are so responsive to it and excited about it,” he said. About 75 percent of the local health care workers have chosen to get the vaccine, he said. State numbers show that as of Monday, 196 people have been vaccinated with one shot in the county, and 201 people have completed the series by receiving both doses. Some of those people may have gotten their shot in another county where they work. This week, Moody County has had 604 cases, and 12 are active. Of the total, 576 people have recovered. The number of people who have been hospitalized and have died remained at 43 and 16. An additional 1,685 tests have been negative. Flandreau schools report one new case of COVID-19 with a student in the middle school. There were no other active cases, as of Monday. The overall vaccination numbers for the county don’t include the hundreds of vaccinations that have been done at the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s clinic nor through the Veteran’s Administration because those doses come directly from the federal government. “The tribal clinic has received several hundred doses of the Moderna vaccine from IHS (Indian Health Services),” said Cynthia Jacobs, CEO at the clinic. The clinic is using Centers for Disease Control guidelines, giving priority to Native language speakers, many of whom already qualify because of their age or medical risks. The first booster shots are being given this week, and the clinic has a daily vaccination schedule, she said. South Dakota is offering the vaccine, at this time, to those 65 and older, starting in five-year increments and working to younger people within the category. In addition, the shot is available to those who are on dialysis, are post-transplant patients or who have cancer, and those in congregate living settings, those who have two of more underlying medical conditions, teachers and school staff and funeral service workers. People who live in Moody County are able to get their vaccinations at Avera Flandreau, no matter where they go to the doctor. People living in Minnesota but patients in Flandreau are not eligible for the shots in South Dakota. Even though, based on state data, other counties may appear to be doing more vaccinations than Moody County is reporting, Avera Flandreau is getting the same allotments that other Avera facilities in other similar counties are getting, Hargens said. Administration of the vaccine still is complicated as providers work through the doses they are allotted, he said. “I feel like we’re flying a plane that we’re building at the same time,” he said. “We’re doing the best we can.”

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