SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A big announcement from the South Dakota Department of health concerning the Coronavirus vaccine: starting Monday, April 5th, anyone over the age of 16 who wants the vaccine will become eligible. The state had not expected to be able to move to Phase 2 until sometime in May.
“This is definitely the result of the hard work of so many people working to vaccinate people across our state,” said South Dakota Secretary of Health, Kim Malsam-Rysdon.
There are two paths to herd immunity, vaccines or infection. 70% of the population is the preferred number for herd immunity, that’s the point where the virus will stop spreading. Right now South Dakota sits at 28% of the population that is fully vaccinated.
If we add in the 12% of the people in the state who have had the virus, and might be immune for a limited time, that still only brings us to 40%. So, we have a long way to go to the safety of herd immunity. Now that just about everyone can get the vaccine, the question is will they?
Some people may avoid vaccines because of religious objections, fears about the possible risks or skepticism about the benefits.
“That is an issue that we will continue to work on, sometimes people just need a little more time to think about it and see the experience of their friends and neighbors and family members, but it is something that we will continue to work on so that folks have the information they need to choose to be vaccinated,” said Malsam-Rysdon.
Malsam Rysdon says health workers will be reaching out to people in eligible groups to encourage them to get vaccinated. Part of that strategy will be helping those who aren’t able to use the online registration process. Help is also available through the state’s COVID hotline: 1-800-997-2880.
Like South Dakota, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says the vaccine will be available to all residents over the age of 16 next Monday. KELOLAND viewers in Minnesota over the age of 16 became eligible for the shots on Tuesday.
The state of South Dakota is expecting more vaccines in the coming weeks, about 5,000 more doses next week than we have this week. The Veterans Administration, Indian Health Services, and the Federal Retail Pharmacy program are also providing thousands of doses of vaccine a week.
Malsam-Rysdon reminds people to keep wearing masks and social distancing. She is urging people to hang in there, so we can avoid unnecessary cases and more deaths.