South Dakota’s COVID-19 path to herd immunity


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — This week South Dakota passed a sad milestone when it comes to the pandemic. 2,000 people with COVID-19 have now died.

Vaccination rates in South Dakota have slowed in recent weeks. Numbers from the State Health Department show about half the people in the state have been vaccinated, while half haven’t got it yet or are avoiding the shot altogether.

Bunny Christie with the Brookings Health System says the vaccine is the safest and easiest way to end the pandemic. She is a microbiologist specializing in infectious diseases.

“The way herd immunity works is that the more people that are vaccinated or protected against a virus or bacteria, the less chance it is to enter the population and then infect everybody, so we really need people to not hesitate to get the vaccine, we need them to get there get vaccinated and do it in a timely manner,” said Christie.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is making it easy to for people to get vaccinated.

You can call a free hotline — 1-800-232-0233, you can also text your zip code to 43 88 29, or log on to

Chief medical advisor to the President, Dr. Anthony Fauci believes the president’s goal of having 70-percent of people with at least one dose of the vaccine by the 4th of July can be attained. Christie believes we can get there in South Dakota.

“I had a good friend tell me, she typically doesn’t get a lot of vaccines, just sort of her preference and she really put it poignantly to me and said, ‘you know Bunny I’m not getting this vaccine because I absolutely want it, I’m getting it because I want things to get back to normal’. And that really hit home, how she said it, and that it wasn’t about her, it was about everybody else and trying to get to that herd immunity so we can get back to some sort of normal,” Christie said.

The number one reason people are not getting vaccinated in South Dakota is some people feel the vaccines were rushed into production, and they feel they might not be safe. However, health officials point out, after administering hundreds of thousands of doses, there has not been a single documented negative reaction to a vaccine in South Dakota.

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