Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine

How and When You’ll Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine

Sanford Health will notify you when we have a vaccine available for you.  We are committed to helping you get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. Because supplies are limited, vaccines are distributed based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and each state’s department of health.

How Will I Be Notified of Vaccine Availability?

If you are currently a Sanford Health patient, you will receive a My Sanford Chart message, a letter and a call or text message when we are ready to set up your vaccine appointment.

If you are not a patient of Sanford Health or any other health system and would like to get the COVID-19 vaccine, please complete the form to register for our waiting list. This list is only for non-Sanford Health patients. We will notify current patients when a vaccine is available for them. If you are a patient at another health system, you will get your vaccine from that system.

Join Vaccine Waiting List

If you are a current Sanford Health patient who has been seen within the last three years, you do not need to fill out this form. You will receive a communication to schedule your appointment when a dose is available for you. We will be contacting patients through My Sanford Chart, so we encourage you to create an account if you do not already have one. This is the fastest way we can contact you.

When Will I Receive a Vaccine?

Everyone will eventually get access to the vaccine. When you receive your vaccine depends on the amount available and if you belong to a priority group.

Each state has a unique distribution plan. Learn more about your state below.

We’re following the guidance of the CDC and each state’s department of health to administer vaccines to priority groups once supplies are available. Ultimately, whether or not you get your COVID-19 vaccine depends on vaccine supply. You will receive a vaccine dose if there’s one available.

Who Can I Contact for More Information?

If you have general questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, please call the Sanford Health Nurse Line. My Sanford Nurse is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Sioux Falls region
(800) 445-5788 or (605) 333-4444
Please press 1

Fargo, Bismarck and Bemidji regions
(800) 821-5167 or (701) 234-5000
Please press 2

Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine

Who’s first in line to get the vaccine?

The first phase of vaccine distribution includes front-line health care workers and residents and staff at long-term care locations.

Who decides which groups get priority?

Sanford Health follows guidance set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and each state’s department of health. These organizations make sure that vaccines are going first to those most at risk. Priority groups will be set by age, occupation and health conditions as they are most at risk for COVID-19.

Can I make my own vaccine appointment or get one at my clinic?

Due to limited quantities, patients can’t schedule their vaccine appointment or go to a clinic. Please wait until after you receive the notification that we are ready to give you a vaccine. After you receive your notification, you can schedule your appointment by calling the phone number included in your notification or by going online to My Sanford Chart.

What should I do before my vaccine appointment?

What will happen at my vaccine appointment?

You will receive a vaccine card that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it and where you received it. You will also get a fact sheet that tells you more about the specific COVID-19 vaccine you got. Each COVID-19 vaccine has its own fact sheet to help you understand the risks and benefits of receiving the vaccine.

You will be observed on-site for 15 minutes after you receive the vaccine. During this time, we’ll help you schedule your appointment for your second dose. We’ll also give you information about v-safe, a free smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe also reminds you to get your second dose if you need one. Learn more about v-safe.

Should people who are pregnant or breastfeeding get the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines have not been tested on pregnant or breastfeeding women. We don’t know if the vaccine will work as well in these groups or if there will be increased risks to mom or her baby. That’s why it’s especially important to be informed before making a decision.

Here are the facts:

  • Those who are pregnant face a higher risk of birth complications, hospitalization and death from a COVID-19 infection.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine prevents 9.5 out of 10 COVID-19 infections.
  • Pregnant women experience the same vaccine side effects as others, including fever. When pregnant women have a persistent high fever in the first trimester, it may increase the chance of birth defects or miscarriage. Some people may choose to wait until after their first trimester to get vaccinated.

You may choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have certain risk factors, such as if you:

  • Work in health care
  • Interact with a lot of people
  • Are overweight
  • Have a chronic medical condition like diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease
  • Smoke
  • Have a high rate of COVID-19 cases in your community
  • Are part of a racial or ethnic minority group

Talk to your health care provider about your risk factors to make a decision.

If you’re currently breastfeeding, experts say there’s no reason to think that the vaccines affect the safety of your breastmilk. There is also evidence that antibodies from the vaccines do pass from your breastmilk to your baby. This may help protect your baby from infection.

Who shouldn’t get the vaccine?

These groups shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine: 

  • Children under the age of 16 (Pfizer) or 18 (Moderna) will not yet be given the vaccine. Clinical trials to test the vaccine in children are ongoing. 
  • People who have had an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components, including polyethylene glycol (PEG).
  • People who have had an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to polysorbate.
  • People who have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should not receive additional doses of either of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

Read more about the risks and considerations of the COVID-19 vaccine.

I’m an organization that is part of the SD priority groups. How do I get my employees vaccinated?

Sanford Health will register your entity in our system. The main contact at your organization will receive another email with a link to an online form to register all of your employees. When we have doses available, we will contact you with instructions for your employees to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

View a list of South Dakota priority groups

If you haven’t been contacted by Sanford yet, please email us and we will get your organization registered.

Can I go back to normal after getting the vaccine?

It will still be important to follow CDC guidelines after you get your COVID-19 vaccine, particularly with face masks. Please keep wearing a mask, washing your hands and practicing social distancing.

After your first dose, it is possible to contract COVID-19 and spread to others because this dose only starts to build protection. Your second dose will achieve 95% efficacy.

Because the vaccine does not provide 100% protection against the virus, we still recommend that everyone who receives the vaccine continue to wear a mask and take precautions.

About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Why get vaccinated?

Vaccines help keep you healthy by reducing your chance of being infected by a serious or deadly virus. They use your body’s natural defense system (immune system) to help you safely develop immunity against a disease. Plus, vaccines protect you when you get vaccinated as well as others in your family and community by stopping the spread of diseases.

Learn more about why you should get COVID-19 vaccine.

What are the ingredients in the vaccine?

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine includes the following ingredients: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate and sucrose.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine contains the following ingredients: mRNA, lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate and sucrose.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

The COVID-19 vaccines are all mRNA vaccines, which work by giving instructions (mRNA) to your immune cells. The vaccine tells the cells to make a harmless protein called a spike protein, which mimics the protein that is found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. Your immune system then recognizes the protein doesn’t belong in your body and will make antibodies to get rid of it. Through this process, the mRNA vaccine teaches your body to fight off any future COVID-19 infections.

mRNA vaccines can’t give you the COVID-19 virus. They also do not affect or alter your DNA in any way. Instead, the vaccines work with your body’s natural defense system to safely build up protection against the COVID-19 virus.

Learn More About mRNA Vaccines

What should I know about the current COVID-19 vaccines?

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the United States. After authorization, Pfizer began shipping vaccines on Dec. 12. Moderna received EUA approval on Dec. 18 and began shipping vaccines shortly thereafter.

Both of these vaccines require two doses given a few weeks apart. The first dose of a vaccine jump-starts an immune response by prompting antibody production. This is the body’s first opportunity to recognize and defend against the virus. The second dose helps the body to produce even more antibodies and strengthens the immune response.

In the studies for Pfizer's vaccine, the first shot is about 52% effective in preventing COVID-19. The second shot increased that effectiveness to 95%. The Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, starting from 14 days after the second dose.

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be given 21 days apart, and Moderna shots will be given 28 days apart.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Safety is our top priority. Before any vaccine receives approval for widespread use, it must be supported by research data that shows it is safe and effective for patients. Both vaccines approved for emergency use have undergone rigorous testing as directed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure safety and effectiveness.

As of early January, Sanford Health has administered more than 16,000 vaccines with an adverse reaction rate of 0.10%. This means there have been very few negative reactions among those who have received the vaccine.

For some, the COVID-19 vaccine may cause mild side effects. This isn’t a bad thing. Side effects show the vaccine is working and your body is building an immune response. The most common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are injection site pain, soreness and swelling. These side effects are most common after the second dose of the vaccine and will typically resolve after one or two days.

Learn More About Vaccine Side Effects

Can I get the vaccine if I have already had and recovered from COVID-19?

A COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. You will not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated.

However, anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and after they have met the criteria to stop isolating. Find the criteria here.

How much does the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

Most people will get the vaccine at no cost. Private insurance companies and government insurance programs like Medicare will fully cover the cost of the vaccine.

What does it take to reach herd immunity?

When a virus cannot spread because a large portion of the community is protected against it, this is called herd immunity. To achieve herd immunity, the majority of the population needs to be vaccinated against a virus. This protects those who are vaccinated as well as people who are unable to receive the vaccine or who do not respond to a vaccine, such as someone with a compromised immune system or an allergy to ingredients in the vaccine.

How long will I have immunity from COVID-19 after I’m vaccinated?

We won’t know how long immunity will last until we have more data on the vaccine.

What are the long-term effects of the vaccine?

At this time, there is no data about potential long-term side effects. However, it is extremely rare for vaccines to have negative long-term side effects that appear beyond the FDA’s required two-month monitoring period. All trials go through the monitoring period before they can get EUA.

What is v-safe?

V-safe is a monitoring program created by the FDA and CDC. After you get the vaccine, you’ll receive a card that includes information on how to register for v-safe. You will need your smartphone to use the tool.

V-safe uses text messages and web surveys to check in on your health after your vaccination. Through the tool, you can quickly report side effects and get reminders on when you need a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you opt-in to the program, you will get daily health check-ins for the first week. After that, you’ll get health check-in alerts at three, six and 12 months after your final dose.

Learn More About V-safe

What can I do now to prevent getting COVID-19 while I wait for the vaccine?

Stopping a global pandemic takes everyone working together. You can help prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 by wearing a mask to cover your mouth and nose when you are around others, practicing social distancing, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands often, avoiding touching your face, and staying home when you are sick or have symptoms.

How long do I have to wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine after I received a different vaccine?

If you’ve received another vaccine in the last two weeks, you will need to wait 14 days before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

After receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you should wait at least 14 days before getting another vaccine.

If I’ve gotten COVID-19 antibody therapy, do I need to wait to get the vaccine?

Yes. If you’ve received COVID-19 antibody therapy in the last 90 days, you need to wait at least 90 days before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.