SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In the first six months of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Minnehaha County has surpassed 50% of the eligible population becoming fully vaccinated. 

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which incorporates data from state and federal entities, 81,525 people (age 12 or older) are fully vaccinated in Minnehaha County. That’s 51.2% of the estimated age 12 or older population. Nationwide, 48.8% of the estimated age 12 or older population has been fully vaccinated. 

Sandy Frentz, public health manager with the Sioux Falls Health Department, said the city has been happily watching declining new case numbers and hospitalizations. 

“We’re very pleased and grateful for everybody that received their vaccine,” Frentz said. “We know there’s still some work to do to get people vaccinated.” 

The vaccine rollout in Minnehaha County has been very similar to the statewide effort. In terms of the percent of total population fully vaccinated, 12+ and 18+. Statewide, 84% of the population 65+ is fully vaccinated, while Minnehaha County is at 80%. 

Pennington County, South Dakota’s second-largest county, has 35% of its 12-and-older population fully vaccinated. Dewey County is the highest fully 12-and-older population fully vaccinated at 59%.

Frentz noted the number of new doses given each day fell from 4,000 doses-per-day peaks in March and April to around 1,000 doses-per-day in Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties. She said the city hopes to keep a steady vaccine rate throughout the summer with the goal of reaching 70% of eligible people fully vaccinated. 

The number of new COVID-19 doses from March 2021 to May 2021. Graph from city of Sioux Falls.

“We’re focusing on continuing availability and access to vaccines and education,” Frentz said. “We know, there is a group of people no matter what we say or do are going to choose to not take the vaccine.” 

She called the vaccine another mitigation tool for public health and added the vaccine has played the biggest role in declining case numbers. She said education about the vaccine remains a top priority, noting some people who have been previously infected with COVID-19 might skip a vaccine. 

“Well, they still do need the vaccine,” Frentz said. “It’s continuing to put that message out so we can help people be comfortable with their decisions.” 

She noted vaccine availability is high in Sioux Falls with local pharmacies and health systems providing shots. Frentz said anyone who is looking for help to receive a vaccine can call the 211 Helpline or visit the city or state health websites. 

Minnesota, Iowa slightly out-pacing S.D. in vaccinations 

In terms of the percent of population fully vaccinated, South Dakota is nearly on-par with the United States as a whole. For total population, S.D. is at 42% while the U.S. is 41%. For age 18 or older, S.D. is at 55% and the U.S. is 51%. At age 65 or older, S.D. is at 84% and the U.S. is at 74%. 

Compared to North Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota, South Dakota is above N.D. but trails Minnesota and Iowa slightly in total population, 12+ and 18+.