Mitchell will have a permanent location for COVID-19 vaccinations starting later this month.
Avera Queen of Peace Hospital and the Mitchell Area Development Corporation are working to make a site available at the MADC-owned building along the State Highway 37 bypass, located at 1308 W. 15th Avenue. Friday, Feb. 12 is expected to be the first day that vaccinations will be done at the location.
More information about the rollout of public vaccines and clinics in the Mitchell area is expected to be announced Wednesday by Avera.
The rollout of the local plan was a topic of discussion for the Davison County Commission on Tuesday, although commissioners didn’t need to sign off on decisions.
The county had discussed making the Davison County Fairgrounds available for public vaccination clinics but Avera has opted to go with a building that could be left set up for clinics over the next number of months, as opposed to taking down equipment and setting it back up at the fairgrounds to make room for other events.
Nevertheless, the clinic location off one of the city’s busiest highways had the endorsement of the commission.
“It’s about location, location, location, and to have something that’s permanent and will stay there and doesn’t need to be torn down, and in town where the bulk of the people are located, I don’t think it’s a bad plan at all,” Commissioner Denny Kiner said.
All vaccinations will be done by appointment. Avera will be vaccinating the Group 1D division of individuals, starting with following people:
People age 80 and older;
People receiving care for transplant;
Current cancer patients;
Other people in the 1D group include people above the age of 65, people with serious medical conditions, educators, funeral service workers and people in high-risk congregate living facilities.
Avera already rents part of the 18,398-square foot building out from the MADC, as part of the building is occupied by the health system’s patient financial services department.
The facility will be expected to serve residents from Davison, Aurora and Hanson counties, Davison County Acting Emergency Management Director Mark Jenniges said.
“It’s going to be a long, drawn-out process,” he said about the timeline of getting the bulk of the public vaccinated. “There’s still a lot we don’t know.”
Jenniges told the county commission Tuesday that the federal money that they’ve been told would be available to pay for expenses associated with getting space for vaccine clinics has not been fully sorted out.
“It’s been a revolving door that nobody seems to have a key for how to get into,” he said.
He said that the county will likely help get their point of distribution volunteers, or POD, to help with events such as data entry and screening individuals. That volunteer list comes from the county’s flu shot clinic typically held at the Corn Palace each fall.
Commissioner Randy Reider, who has been involved with some of the planning around the clinic events, said the area’s vaccination doses could increase later this month.
“But that’s always subject to change,” Reider said. “But once we get out to the (building on the) 12th, the intention is that we stay out there for the foreseeable future.”
Jenniges said the increased doses will include the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Until recently, the bulk of Avera Queen of Peace’s supply has been the Moderna vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine requires deep freezing to maintain it, and then once it is refrigerated, there are five days to administer it, posing more challenges to get it out to rural areas.
According to the SDDOH dashboard on Tuesday, 1,789 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine in Davison County, and 1,023 individuals have received two doses.
How to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination?
Here’s how Avera’s vaccination process works in South Dakota, according to the health care system:
Some Avera patients in Group 1D will receive phone calls to set up vaccination appointments. People are encouraged to avoid calling their primary care provider or clinic about getting the vaccine because high call volumes can slow the process for everyone.
Another option is to visit Avera.org/covid-vaccine online and complete a form for an appointment.
People who don’t have internet access can call the Avera COVID-19 Hotline at 1-877-AT-AVERA.
If your group is not yet up for vaccination, you can sign up for the waiting list. It’s also online, and Avera.org/covid-vaccine is continually updated so you can know what’s happening with each group that is being vaccinated.