DOH Secretary calls increase in COVID-19 vaccinations ‘A very welcome sign to see’

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — While there was a 68% increase in the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in South Dakota, there was also a notable increase in the number of new people receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. 

On Aug. 4, there were 357,714 people fully vaccinated in South Dakota, an increase of 2,564 and roughly 366 new people each day. In addition to those fully vaccinated numbers, Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said the Department of Health saw more than twice as many people receive their first dose of the vaccine compared to the previous week (July 20 through July 27). 

“That’s the kind of thing we want to see happening across the state again,” Malsam-Rysdon told KELOLAND News. “This is a very welcome sign to see more people choose to become vaccinated.” 

“This is a very welcome sign to see
more people choose to become vaccinated,” 

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon.

This week, 956 people received their first dose, compared to just 449 June 26 through July 3.  

“Vaccines are readily available across the state and that’s changed dramatically in the last few months,” Malsam-Rysdon said. “It’s more convenient than ever to get your COVID-19 vaccine.” 

Current president of the South Dakota State Medical Association Dr. Kara L. Dahl said “the biggest way to tackle COVID-19” is by getting the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“We would like the general public to realize that the Delta variant is in South Dakota,” said Dahl, who is an emergency medicine physician at Sanford Aberdeen Medical Center and became the SDSMA president in June. “It is very important if you are not vaccinated to become vaccinated.” 

Dahl highlighted 96% of physicians in the United States are vaccinated against COVID-19. 

“That’s a number I wish was highlighted more,” Dahl said. “Physicians in this country are made up from all types of people, we come from all types of backgrounds and nationalities.” 

Both Dahl and Malsam-Rysdon stressed people should speak with personal doctors about any concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Malsam-Rysdon said people should seek reputable sources for any questions about COVID-19 or the vaccine. 

“A lot of people need to have a discussion with their physicians,” Dahl said. 

When it comes to full authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine, Malsam-Rysdon said the latest she’s heard is the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is likely to receive full authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in September and the Moderna vaccine has also applied for full FDA approval.   

“There are some trials happening right now to determine the safety and effectiveness of those vaccines for those kids under the age of 12,” Malsam-Rysdon said, adding approval for that age group has been roughly been set as sometime this school year. 

In South Dakota, Dahl said 98% of COVID-19 cases and 95% of COVID-19 hospitalizations were among unvaccinated persons from January to June. 

Malsam-Rysdon called current hospitalizations for COVID-19 “preventable.” 

“We really want people to have those facts and consider getting vaccinated for themselves and for their families,” Malsam-Rysdon said. 

The start of school less than two weeks away for some South Dakota school districts. College students for South Dakota’s public colleges start on Aug. 23 and Malsam-Rysdon urged all parents to consider the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Please. Look at getting your children vaccinated, it’s protecting them,” Malsam-Rysdon said, adding there’s more cases showing up in younger people. “Kids can still become very, very ill. It’s important that parents look at information and consider that carefully.”

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