Sanford Health continued its fight against COVID-19 today, offering the first public vaccines to patients in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Those vaccinated today were the first to receive the vaccine in the next phase of the vaccination rollout plan.
Getting back to normal
When 81-year-old retired teacher Mel Klein got the call about getting vaccinated, he was ready.
“Today is the first day that I’m happy I’m over 80,” he chuckled. “Living through the last year, you’re ready for almost anything to move your life back to something like normal.”
He was one of the first Sanford Health patients vaccinated in the new priority group.
Mike Wilde, M.D., is the vice president medical officer at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He says the vaccines are now available to Mel and other South Dakota residents 80 years and older.
“Today is extra special because we get to really start offering the vaccine to the general public,” he said.
The phase also offers vaccinations to high risk patients, and patients with two or more underlying medical conditions. Also included are teachers and school staff, as well as funeral service workers.
Katherine Porter is an 80-year-old retired Sanford Health nurse. She urges everyone to get the vaccine who can.
“It’s our only chance of getting life back to what we really want. Back to what we call normal,” she said.
Not too late
So far, roughly 44,000 South Dakotans have been vaccinated. Dr. Wilde says even though providers are moving to the wider priority group, the clock hasn’t run out for anyone from the previous priority group who’s been offered the vaccine, but hasn’t taken it.
“Once the invitation’s been extended, the invitation is good.”
The previous priority group includes health care workers, public health workers, emergency medical services, law enforcement, and correctional officers.
He adds, though, that Sanford Health will soon be vaccinating a bigger population as part of the next priority group, so the earlier a patient can schedule a vaccine, the better.
And, vaccines are the best and safest way to beat COVID-19.
“The trials and safety data was not accelerated at all. What was accelerated was the manufacture of the vaccine, which is why we can move from trials to vaccines so rapidly,” said Wilde.
Sanford Health will notify patients when the vaccine is available for them. Patients can expect a phone call, text message, letter, or a message on My Sanford Chart.
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