VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) – While the vaccine distribution in South Dakota is currently focused on people over the age of 80 and high risk patients, teachers and other school and college staff are next in line.
Though it might be a couple of months yet, the chances of staff and teachers at USD getting the COVID-19 vaccine is at least on the horizon.
“It does include teachers that have to face students, college staff that are surrounded by people they don’t know, we’re in the 1D’s also. But it will be awhile before they get to us. We’re healthy so we’re not going to get the vaccine before somebody who might be more endanger if they got COVID-19,” Kevin O’Kelley, the chair of the USD COVID-19 Task Force, said.
As for the students on campus, they have even longer to wait.
“College students are the healthiest of all of us. So, they are pretty low on the list so they’re part of our general population of the United States,” O’Kelley said.
However, when the time comes for vaccinations, USD is encouraging everyone to get the shot.
“We do want everybody to get vaccinated. We do. And we will vaccinate you as soon as we can and we encourage everybody to get vaccinated as soon as you can,” O’Kelley said.
O’Kelley says the health care systems in South Dakota will be leading the efforts of notifying staff and students when they can get vaccinated. However, USD is helping where it can.
“Of course, Sanford knows that University of South Dakota is here and they’ve reached out to us, asked for a list of employees and staff who want the vaccine. Then sooner or later they’ll ask us for a list of students,” O’Kelley said.
In the meantime, students and staff on campus are still following COVID-19 protocols such as masking up indoors. Classes started again for the Spring semester last week.
“Last Fall, there was a story here. We had a lot of students who were testing positive for COVID-19 who were in isolation dorms. And this year we have a much better situation, much, much better,” O’Kelley said.
Students at USD have two testing options available to them free of charge.