SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– The South Dakota Department of Health reached a vaccination milestone with 50% of the state’s population receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Saturday.
As of Monday, April 12, 303,040 South Dakota have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 35.64% have competed their vaccine series.
“It’s a great milestone to have,” the state’s health secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said. “We are really pleased to see people stepping up and being vaccinated. We know that is going to be our path to a new normal here in the coming months.”
There are many resources in South Dakota communities for people to become vaccinated, Malsam-Rysdon said.
“We are making vaccination as easy as possible,” Malsam-Rysdon said. “You can find vaccines at your local healthcare provider, at pharmacies across the state, federally-qualified healthcare centers as have vaccines available, so we’ve got lots of different ways that people can become vaccinated and we are just really encouraged by how many people are doing that.”
Malsam-Rysdon said it is really important for young people to understand that they need to get vaccinated too.
“I think some people think that, you know, COVID isn’t going to impact them so much, so maybe vaccination isn’t as important, but that’s actually just not true,” Malsam-Rysdon said. “We need young people, where we are seeing actually more cases in the last several weeks of COVID, to be vaccinated because COVID can severally impact their health and they can certainly spread it to others who might have a harder time if they were to contract COVID.”
It is important to see people, especially in the 20-29 year-old range where are more cases recently, getting vaccinated, Malsam-Rysdon said.
According to a news release from the state’s health department, on Saturday they reported a 7% increase in COVID-19 cases in residents ages 20-29 years old in the past six weeks. From March 23 to April 5 there were 479 cases in this younger age group, totaling 19% of all identified cases.
On of the most common myths that they see when it comes to the vaccine, is that people think it isn’t safe, Malsam-Rysdon said.
“They see how quickly the vaccine was developed, but it is important for people to remember that no corners were cut when any of the vaccines were developed,” Malsam-Rysdon said. “They were developed quickly because the federal government invested in the companies to do that. So while companies were building the vaccine, they were also manufacturing the vaccine so that once all of the safety protocols were followed, and the vaccines were determined to be safe, we would have vaccine available.”
The time frame was condensed, Malsam-Rysdon said, because of the proactive measures that the federal government took.
“It does not mean that anything relative to safety was, you know, cut short or cut smaller. So, the vaccines are safe,” Malsam-Rysdon said. “We also that they are really effective and that is more effective than we really could have even hoped for. So that’s a great thing.”
All three vaccines available now are 100% effective at keeping people out of the hospital or dying from COVID-19, Malsam-Rysdon said.
“We really want people to use facts over fear,” Malsam-Rysdon said.
The state health department is doing vaccination outreach through several different venues, Malsam-Rysdon said, including advertisements, Facebook posts and outreach with different groups such as employers. They will also be doing outreach to specific populations so that they have the facts about vaccination.
Malsam-Rysdon said they have had the best vaccine from the older population, 65 years and older, where they have seen close to 80% of those individuals being vaccinated.
“But we really do want to encourage people who are under age 65 who, again, can get really sick if you get COVID or even, you know, die from it, but certainly can help spread it, and that’s what we want to minimize through vaccinating all adults in South Dakota who chose to become vaccinated,” Malsam-Rysdon said.
“I think we’ve seen a great turn out and you know, we didn’t really map out how long it would take us to get to certain milestones, we really want to see at least 70% of the adult eligible population to be vaccinated, so we’ve got about half of that group, we’ve got about 35% of all adults fully vaccinated, we’ve got 50% with at least one vaccine, so we are on our way there but we need other people to do their part,” Malsam-Rysdon said.
If you haven’t yet been vaccinated, Malsam-Rysdon encourages you to make your appointment and do so.
“You are going to see lots of opportunities,” Malsam-Rysdon said. “It’s easy, it’s fast and it’s free to the person.”
The vaccine is free, the most that will happen is your insurance will get billed for the vaccine administration fee, Malsam-Rysdon said.
“You will not see any out-of-pocket costs from getting vaccinated,” Malsam-Rysdon said.
By mid-summer, they hope to see them rolling post that 70% vaccination mark, Malsam-Rysdon said. Now that there are more vaccines and locations available she said there is really no reason they can’t see closer to that 70% mark in the coming months.
Malsam-Rysdon said to not forget the other things that need to be done to stop COVID-19. Those include getting tested if you have symptoms or have come into contact with someone who had COVID, stay home and isolate if you have COVID, washing your hands often, staying away from large crowds and trying to stay at least six feet apart from other people.
“Those things really are still important,” Malsam-Rysdon said. “But, again, shots in arms is our goal right now, and we really appreciate people stepping up and being vaccinated in our state.”