State health officials planning to work on COVID-19 vaccine distribution throughout the summer and ‘for some time’

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Plan on a summer full of COVID-19 vaccine updates and information. 

Health officials with the South Dakota Department of Health repeated the goal for herd immunity for COVID-19 will be 70% of the eligible population. To help the state achieve that, they’ll continue to point people to trusted sources of information and encourage questions about the vaccine, not fear. 

“We know that we are going to need to continue to work on this through the summer months,” Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said. “Just continue to help people make that choice. We expect to be working on this for some time.” 

On Wednesday, 50% of South Dakotans age 16 and older have become fully vaccinated. Health officials reported 56% of South Dakotans age 16 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Soon the age group 12-15 will also be allowed to start receiving the vaccine. Health officials said the 2019 U.S. Census data reports that age group as 48,120 people in South Dakota. 

The same census data estimates nearly 25% of South Dakota’s population is age 19 or younger, roughly 220,000 out of 886,667. So far only 9,971 persons in the 16-19 age group have received a vaccine.

“The goal of vaccinating 70% of the eligible population will remain,” Malsam-Rysdon said as the state plans to add the 12-15 age group as eligible. “That’s the number we’re trying to get to, to have an assurance of herd immunity.” 

Adding people to the eligible population will reduce the percent vaccinated because the denominator will be larger. 

State epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said 70% is a goal for the DOH and a lower threshold for general herd immunity.

“We want not only the entire population of the state that are eligible to be at 70-percent. We also want some populations to achieve that as well,” Dr. Clayton said. “We want to make sure that we have that uniform level of protection across all population groups and all geographical areas.”

Malsam-Rysdon did not want to set a date to reach 70% of the eligible population to become vaccinated. 

She said health systems receiving vaccine allocation from the state are now ordering vaccine allocations with a “order by demand” system. 

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