CUSTER, S.D. — Added comfort and new opportunities. According to local healthcare workers, it’s what the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine provides for communities in the Black Hills and around the country.
A total of 2,300 doses of Moderna’s vaccine arrived at Monument Health Rapid City on Monday night, awaiting distribution to local hospitals in Custer and Spearfish while Sturgis, Hot Springs (Fall River Health Services), Philip and Martin (Bennett County Hospital and Nursing Home) received 100 doses.
Healthcare providers are excited, emphasizing the technology used to make vaccines.
“The technology behind vaccines has been used for years and years; vaccines have a great record of safety and effectiveness at preventing diseases,” said Terry Graber, a Staff Physician at the Hill Clinic and Custer Care Center. “I think the technology that allows the companies that actually extract the proteins that the vaccine is made to, those technologies are better now then they have been in the past, so that allowed the companies to get information about how the vaccines are made much quicker.”
They say getting the vaccine comes down to protecting the entire community from the disease.
“I would encourage it (getting the vaccine), because I think it’s really going to be the only way we’re going to get enough people immune to stop the spread of the disease,” Graber said. “So it’s great for individuals to protect themselves, but it’s really much more important for the community as a whole that we all get vaccinated as much as possible.”
Moderna’s vaccine doesn’t require “deep freeze” storage like the Pfizer vaccine, making it easier to store and transport to rural hospitals. Moderna’s vaccine can also be placed in a standard medical refrigerator for about a month before it must be administered, while Pfizer can be stored for up to five days.
Graber also said that even though the COVID-19 vaccines are new, which people can find to be scary, the same kind of technology is used in them as well as most others. He also says that improved technology for companies making the vaccine helped to speed up the process to get Emergency Use Authorization.
200 doses were distributed to Custer and Spearfish with 100 going to the other hospitals.