School officials share thoughts as vaccine availability opens to people 16 years old or older in South Dakota

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Monday is the first day any South Dakota resident who is 16 years old or older can receive a COVID-19 vaccine; click here to go to the South Dakota Department of Health’s website where there is a map with vaccine providers organized by county.

Sioux Falls School Board President Cynthia Mickelson points to the individual family while also speaking positively about the vaccine.

“I just think it’s important as a family that they make the determination if it’s the right decision for them as a family and that child knowing their health history and so forth if it’s the right thing to do,” Mickelson said. “Of course we are hoping people get vaccinated that may get vaccinated because we do believe it does help slow the spread of the disease and also keeps children in school, which is our goal.”

Katy Urban, community relations manager with Rapid City Area Schools, also highlights the family when talking about students receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Certainly we’re encouraging it, and we understand that this is a family decision for sure, but just like we did with our staff, we think that it makes for a safer environment for everyone, and ultimately our goal is to get back to school full-time without much distance learning next year,” Urban said. “And so again, by having this available for our high school students, which is really where we saw a lot of the spread more so than like at our elementary and middle school-level, this is a big deal and it really is a game-changer for us.”

Rapid City Area Schools have recently seen kids sign up for a vaccine.

“Oyate Health actually about two weeks ago started offering the vaccine to our students, and so we were able to get that information out to our families immediately, and within the first five days, we had over 600 students between the ages of 16 and 18 that had signed up to get vaccinated,” Urban said. “And for us, it made such a big difference, in fact, we were able to change it so we have prom back on now.”

And the end of the school year is not far away either.

“We’re very excited that we’ve made it this far,” Mickelson said. “At the beginning of school we had no idea what was going to happen.”

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