SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In Sioux Falls, most of the older population has been vaccinated. It’s the younger, healthier people who are still avoiding the shots.
Michelle Wellman has an underlying health condition and jumped at the chance to get protection from COVID-19.
“I am vaccinated. I’ve been vaccinated since April and I almost cried when I got it because I was so thrilled to be able to be protected,” Michele Wellman said.
But younger people with no chronic health problems are not getting vaccinated in large numbers. Sioux Falls public health director, Dr. Charles Chima, says he’s setting up focus groups to find out why.
“Why we’re doing this is to really listen and to understand, because we don’t want to make assumptions,” Chima said.
There’s an urgency to getting the shots because school is about to start and kids under the age of 12 can’t be vaccinated.
“Think about the children when you make your decision. If the only thing I can do to protect children in our community is to go out and get a shot, that should be something to consider when we make that decision,” Chima said.
Chima says some people are still on the fence, waiting to make sure the vaccine is really safe even though millions of people have already gotten the vaccine.
“I do not know people who have gotten the vaccination and regretted it. But one thing I know for sure, in the last one week alone, there are many instances of individuals who, right before they get intubated in the intensive care unit, one of their last regrets is I should have just gotten this vaccine,” Chima said.
“All you have to do is look at the news, I mean a woman lost her legs people are losing their life, they’re losing family members,” said Wellman.
And that’s exactly why the city is trying to boost vaccination rates now, before it’s too late.