Brookings Health System photo: McKenzie Nielsen, RN, receives the first COVID-19 vaccine dose administered by Brookings Health System. On Thursday, Brookings Health started vaccinating local medical personnel caring for COVID-19 patients following the South Dakota Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. Brookings Health will continue vaccinations following the Department of Health’s plan as more doses become available.

Following Phase 1a of the South Dakota Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, on Thursday Brookings Health System began administering vaccination doses to local frontline health care workers. 

“The Department of Health’s plan calls to vaccinate medical personnel caring for COVID-19 patients first, including those working in emergency departments, intensive care units, COVID wards, and long-term care facilities,” said Pharmacy Director Steve Timmerman, Pharm. D., who serves as Brookings Health’s site coordinator for vaccine distribution. 

“At the Department of Health’s directive, Brookings Health System has offered vaccination opportunities to eligible staff working in Brookings Hospital and The Neighborhoods at Brookview nursing home as well as StoneyBrook Suites, Edgewood Vista and Dakota Sun assisted living facilities,” Timmerman said.

The doses come from the initial allotment of 7,800 Pfizer-manufactured vaccines the state received following the FDA’s emergency use authorization. If the FDA grants emergency authorization use to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, Brookings Health may continue vaccinations for local frontline health care workers next week and initiate Phase 1b of the Department of Health’s plan, vaccinating local long-term care residents. 

As doses become available, additional Phase 1subgroups will be given the opportunity to receive the vaccine, including other health care workers, first responders, individuals with underlying medical conditions, teachers and critical infrastructure workers. 

Phase 2 of the Department of Health’s plan will make vaccines widely available to the general public. Depending on vaccine supply, the Department of Health hopes to initiate Phase 2 in April or May.

The COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to help stop the pandemic. Combining the vaccination with mask wearing, social distancing, frequent hand washing and other tools gives the best opportunity to stop COVID-19’s spread. 

More information about local efforts to fight COVID-19 and the vaccine can be found online at brookingshealth.org/COVID.

By: Brookings Health System

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