SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s a milestone day here in South Dakota.

Exactly one year ago the state began administering its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but health professionals say judging by the numbers, there’s still lots of work to be done in our fight against the virus.

It was a prayerful day…

“We hold onto you all who will now administer this vaccine,”

followed by the sprinkle of Holy Water….

“I’m going to put it on here because it’s going to cleanse us of this virus,”

that people began to believe help had arrived.

That’s because Avera Health received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer.

One of the first people to get the shot was the Director of Critical Care at Avera, Dr. Anthony Hericks .

“It gave us hope, if we could get enough people vaccinated that hopefully we could dampen the situation and improve the current situation on the ground, because it was pretty dismal at the time,” Dr. Anthony Hericks Director of Critical Care at Avera said.

Since that day, 66% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, but that means more than a third of South Dakotans have yet to get even one shot.

Don: How many people do you think would have survived had they gotten the vaccination immediately?

Dr. Hericks: Quite a few, I don’t know where the numbers are at right now, but what I can tell you is with all the political discord and misinformation out there on social media right now the majority of the people who we are seeing in the hospital are the unvaccinated,” Dr. Hericks said.

Dr. Hericks says no vaccine is 100% effective, but he believes with new variants of COVID-19 popping up around the world, getting the vaccination, if you’re eligible, is your best option.

“This is no longer a disease of the 80-year-olds who are dying; this is 30, 20, 40, 50-year-olds who are sick and spending two weeks to two months in the hospital, or maybe not leaving,” Dr. Hericks said.

To see the latest COVID-19 numbers, click here.

The City of Sioux Falls, Sanford Health and Avera will provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday morning. The topics will range from the impact on health systems, the omicron variant, and vaccinations and boosters. You can watch the livestream of the event on at 11 a.m.