SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Just over 50 percent of the population in South Dakota now has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
But one advocacy group is asking about the other half.
KELOLAND Investigates has been looking into the data and finds out who’s most at risk for missing out on a vaccination.
Native Americans make up nine percent of the population in South Dakota.
However, according to the South Dakota Department of Health, 1.4 percent of Native Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Unlike other states, such as Minnesota, when it comes to demographics, such as age, sex and race, South Dakota’s data does not include information from Indian Health Service or the VA in that number.
KELOLAND Investigates requested South Dakota’s data from IHS.
According to IHS, 24,981 patients in the state have received at least one down through Indian Health, but that number did not include a breakdown for race. IHS is also vaccinating non-Indians who work for or with the tribe.
Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Rodney Bordeaux
“So we have non-Indians that come here that work with the tribe; teachers–whether teachers, tax preparers, other businesses that do a lot of work with tribal members, so come on, you need the shot?”
South Dakota’s data also shows a great discrepancy in the number of vaccinations in rural counties.
While South Dakota counties which are home to reservations show some of the lowest vaccine rates due to IHS number not being included, other rural counties without reservation land are low in vaccinations as well.
For example, out of the 1,300 people who live in Harding County, only 139 people have received a dose of the vaccine.
Out of nearly 2500 people in McPherson County, 247 have received a vaccination.
“Right now the general narrative is that South Dakota is doing very well with the vaccination role out. From dozens of discussions that we’ve had with faith leaders, community leaders, members and labor members and the health care industry–there’s an opposite story when it comes to vaccination equity. In fact the role out is not going well,” Dave Bushaw of the advocacy group, United Together, Stronger Tomorrow, said.
In addition to rural areas, where people may not have good access to the vaccine, non-English speaking immigrant workers are more likely to not get it. Coming up in Wednesday’s investigation into “The Other Half,” we look into efforts to vaccinate the Hispanic community, especially those working in rural areas. Fewer than half a percent of Hispanics in South Dakota have received the COVID-19 vaccination. We also ask the South Dakota Department of Health about what they’re doing to ensure vaccine equity across the state.