COVID Vaccine Update

BJ Stiefvater


COVID-19 Vaccine

The following information is what I currently know and have experienced regarding the COVID Vaccine. I put this brief together to help answer questions for those who are receiving them. Hopefully, getting reliable information out to those who need it will slow the confusion or rumors about this process. The South Dakota Department of Health has placed the responsibilities of vaccinating individuals onto the regional facilities. I.E Avera, Sanford, Etc.… McCook County falls into Sanford’s area. They will be disseminating the vaccine for every resident of McCook county who wishes to receive it.

On December 30th, we held a Vaccination POD (Point of Distribution) at the Armory in Salem SD. This was a combined effort between Sanford and McCook County Emergency Management. We were the first county outside of the regional facilities to start disseminating the vaccine via a POD. This was a good test run of how things will work and set a solid foundation for other POD’s to follow. The vaccine was administered to nursing home staff in our county. The facilities were contacted by Sanford and a list of names was provided. Sanford verified the individuals and determined how much vaccine would be required. You can understand why this was not publicized or shared through media outlets until this distribution was complete.
When the time comes for the next Phase, residents will be notified by either Sanford, their employer, or whomever oversees their group. The larger phases, such as D-E, will be widely publicized and reported in the media.
The timeline for when these phases transition is unknown. The timeline is determined on how much vaccine is available. It will continue to be disseminated via the phases until everyone who wishes to receive it in that phase has it. It will then move onto the next phase. Before we can move onto the next phase, the surrounding counties will have had to vaccinate their Phase 1A individuals. As more vaccine becomes available this process will speed up. My best guess based on what I have been told from the DOH and Sanford, is we might be able to move onto the B-C Phases in 2 to 3 weeks if all goes well. Phases D-E could be a 1-2 months out since they are larger population groups, and more vaccine is needed. This too is all dependent on the amounts of vaccine the State receives from the manufacturers.

I have broken down the Information as best I could with what is currently known on the following pages.


Who is being vaccinated:

Phase 1 A.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) has released interim guidance recommending that healthcare personnel (HCP) and residents of long-term care facilities be offered COVID-19 vaccine in the first phase of vaccination. Phase1A- Frontline Healthcare Workers (working in an emergency department, ICU, COVID unit, or general acute care), Long-Term Care Facility Healthcare Workers.
Those working in long-term facilities are being vaccinated first in McCook County. This was completed as of 12-30-2020.

Phase 1 B.
Long-Term Care residents. Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Centers. CVS and Walgreens pharmacies have been contracted to administer the vaccine to these residents.

Phase 1 C
Other Healthcare Workers, Public Health Workers, Emergency Medical Services, Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers

Phase 1 D
Persons with 2 or more underlying medical conditions: (Cancer, Chronic Kidney Disease, COPD) heart conditions, Immunocompromised State (weakened Immune systems), Organ Transplants. Teachers and other School/College Staff, Persons Aged 65 Years and older, Residents of Congregate Settings, Independent Living Facilities, Group Homes and Funeral Service Workers.

Phase 1 E
Fire Service Personnel, Other Critical Infrastructure Workers, Water, Wastewater, Energy, Food Service, Food and Agriculture, Legal, Manufacturing, Shelter and Housing, Transportation and Logistics, Information Technology and Communications.

For more information on vaccine phases and all things COVID Vaccine I encourage you to visit SDDOH Page.

The Vaccines:
Sanford Administered the Moderna Vaccine during this vaccination. Though it’s impossible to say which vaccine they will be bringing as this will change depending on Availability.

The 2 different vaccines.
The Moderna COVID 19 Vaccine is administered by intramuscular injection as a series of two doses (0.5 mL each) 1 month apart.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is administered intramuscularly as a series of two doses (0.3 mL each) 3 weeks apart.

How they are notified:
Sanford will be contacting the facilities directly, myself (or first responders), or whichever employer/facility is next in line. They will receive rosters of which staff will be receiving the vaccine. Eligibility and dose amounts will be verified. Based on the vaccine received, they will be scheduled to return on the respective dates (3 weeks or 4) to disseminate the second dose to these same individuals. They did not schedule times for individuals but will ask the facilities to stagger their employees as best they can as to not cause a problem. This follow-up process could change going forward.
The second dose for who were just vaccinated (Phase1A individuals) is January 27, 2021.

The point of distribution for McCook County is the Salem Armory (720 N Peck St., Salem). This location has been predesignated for this task, meets the required facility needs, and is centrally located. Long-term care residents are yet to be determined; however, it is believed Sanford will be working with those facilities themselves to administer the vaccine to their residents.

What Happens during Vaccination
Persons enter the building and are handed documents about the vaccine; signatures are required.
They will then be registered. First Name, Last Name DOB - No ID is required as they will have a list from the facilities/employers of who will be receiving the vaccine. They will then go to be vaccinated. People may have to wait outside the room, 6ft from door, for their turn. After vaccination, they will need to move to the waiting area and be observed for 15 minutes for any adverse reactions. During the 12-30-20 event, we had no adverse reactions. After the 15 minutes has lapsed, people are free to leave.

Regional facilities through their own clinics, or in working with the local EM’s will setup similar vaccination sites. It will be administered as doses are available to Phase 1 groups from A-C over the next few weeks. The larger scale general population looks to be 1 to 2 months out. Though this is mostly speculation at this time, based on timelines of available, doses and number of individuals in Phase 1 to receive it. As soon as they receive enough of the vaccine, they will call to setup another site.

Other Considerations:
During this process, there is potential to either have too much or not enough vaccine at each distribution. The vaccine comes in 10 doses per vial. Some people might have to return or go another facility to receive it if there is not enough. This is very unlikely to happen. If there are any doses left over, the remaining vaccine will go to whomever either Sanford, or I can contact that is next in line. These vaccines are only good for a certain amount of time and they will not be wasted or thrown away. At the last POD we had several remaining doses, and all were used on Phase 1B-Phase 1C individuals. No vaccine was wasted.

If you have questions, please feel free to email me. You can also check the SDDOH website as this information is updated daily.

BJ Stiefvater
McCook County Emergency Manager
Office: 605-425-2085
Cell: 605-421-8392
Fax: 605-425-2555