At the request of the Vermillion City Council Monday, City Manager John Prescott sought information from Tim Tracy, CEO of Sanford Vermillion, concerning COVID-19 immunizations in the community.
Prescott passed that information along to the council members and to the public at the city council’s Monday night meeting.
Sanford Health announced in a mid-December 2020 press release that it had received its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls. Sanford Health secured 3,900 doses in South Dakota for that first week, and more doses are scheduled to be delivered each week.
Last month, Tracy had speculated that health care workers in Vermillion would likely receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. He noted at the time, however, that COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans are constantly changing.
“The state does have its COVID vaccination plan, as do all the states across the nation,” Prescott said. “I think the first couple are very similar amongst those, although I can’t say that for other states – only ours. What Tim expressed to me is that they are working on Priority 1A, 1B and 1C for where the vaccinations are taking place right now.”
Priority 1A, he said, are health care personnel working in emergency departments, intensive care units, dedicated COVID units and long-term care staff. Priority 1B are long-term care residents and Priority 1C are other health care workers, such as lab and clinic staff, public health workers, emergency medical services, law enforcement and correctional officers.
“They’re working in all three of those respective categories – 1A, B and C,” Prescott said. “I know last week our police officers had the chance to receive vaccinations. He (Tracy) did say that long term residents were receiving there’s today (Monday).”
The staff that cares for long-term residents had received vaccinations last week, he said.
“Tim thought it might be the end of the month before they would get to Priority 1D, which is the next category made up of persons with underlying medical conditions, teachers at the college and school staff, individuals age 65 and older, residents in congregate settings … and group homes and funeral service workers,” Prescott said.
He added that both medical clinics in the community have gone through their vaccination process.
“Right now, Sanford is the sole source that the vaccinations go through before they get distributed out in the community,” Prescott said. “One of the biggest challenges is that there are fairly small allotments that are coming out across the state.
“Tim did say that the daily testing at Sanford has really dropped,” he said. “It is still available seven days a week. He said they’ve seen around 25 individuals a day, however that number was much higher a couple months ago. They do have the capacity to do more, but it’s a matter of individuals getting scheduled and coming in.”
Prescott said Tracy noted that one of the good things about the drop in testing is increased turnaround time for results have increased because there are fewer tests that are being processed.
Sanford Vermillion will be getting new equipment in a couple weeks that will be able to get back test results of people who are asymptomatic with COVID-19 in about 20 minutes time.
“That will also help, perhaps, encourage more people to test,” he said, “as it becomes a little less onerous and there is a less of a wait time.”
Prescott added that besides city police officers, local EMS personnel, South Dakota Highway Patrol officers and local jailers have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
“With respect to city staff or individuals that city staff works with, those are a few of the groups that I know of that are completing the process or having the opportunity, as well as other individuals who are high risk in our community such as health care workers as well as our longer-term residents,” he said.