Monument Health urges patience in vaccine patients

Courtesy photo

RAPID CITY — The South Dakota Department of Health vaccine distribution plan entered into a new category in its phase one roll out Monday; phase “1D”, which is open to South Dakotans 65 years old and older.

Phone lines at Monument Health were immediately jammed with approximately 12,000 calls from people wanting to make appointments to receive the vaccine – crashing the system.

“There is certainly an urge to the public to be patient on this,” Scott Peterson, pharmacy director for Monument Health said Tuesday. “We want to schedule people for these we do not want an open free-for-all line of people that come in so we are asking that people schedule that way we can stay organized.”

The state estimates that there are around 265,000 South Dakotans in category 1D. In order to better facilitate distribution, 1D has been prioritized further into sub groups.

“We are doing a partial group of phase 1D, that includes people 80 years of age and older, it includes people that have had a transplant, people that are actively getting treatment for cancer, and then also dialysis patients,” he said.

Peterson also said people living in group homes and congregate living centers are included in the current partial group.

“The rest of 1D includes people 65 and older, it includes teachers, it includes funeral service workers, and so that’s a very large group in the state of South Dakota,” he said. “We don’t anticipate that the rest of 1D will be opened up all at once, this will be done in sub-phases and sub-groups.”

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines being used by Monument Health are distributed by the State department of Health based on population. Peterson said the Moderna vaccine comes in vials containing 10 doses, while the Pfizer vaccine comes in six.

“Each of those vials, once it is broke into is only good for six hours,” he said. “One of our priorities as we distribute the vaccine is to not waste doses so we do consider that as we schedule people.”

Because of the stringent expiration time on the vaccines, health officials are asking people to be flexible when scheduling and rescheduling vaccination appointments.

“If it’s towards the end of the day and we’re just breaking into a vile and we only have one person to vaccinate we may ask that person to come back at a different time to be vaccinated so that we don’t waste nine doses of vaccine,” Peterson said.

Monument Health receives approximately 3,000 doses of the vaccine per week to be distributed in Western South Dakota, so the need to prioritize those doses based on those at higher risks is essential for an efficient distribution process.

“The state estimates that we will be in 1D for the entire month of February and March,” Peterson said.

For more information about where Monument Health is in its distribution process, and where you and your loved ones may be in line visit, or call (605) 755-1350 to make a vaccination appointment.

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