SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — One year ago today, COVID-19 vaccinations opened up to more South Dakotans.

You may remember it was initially offered in waves to certain groups, including health care workers, nursing home residents, and first responders.

Then came people who were 80 and older or at high risk.

Mel Klein was 81-years-old when he got his first COVID-19 vaccine dose at a Sanford vaccination clinic.

The Sioux Falls man was among the first in his category in South Dakota to get the shot.

Today, the 82-year-old and his wife are fully vaccinated with their boosters.

“It’s kind of a security blanket. It helps you mentally I think, the fact that you’ve been vaccinated,” Mel Klein said.

To their knowledge, they haven’t had COVID-19, something he credits to the vaccine.

“We’ve probably prevented, nationwide, over 10 million hospitalizations and over a million deaths with the vaccine so far, so it’s absolutely doing the job we asked it to do,” Sanford Health chief physician Dr. Jeremy Cauwels said.

As the pandemic carries on, the Sioux Falls couple will remain careful.

They spend more time in the house.

“Boy, I hope I live long enough to see it being back to normal,” Klein said.

But for right now he’s thankful for the vaccine.

“Being old is certainly one of the things you keep in mind every day. I’m not 50 years old anymore and some health issues pop up, so I grateful for each and every day,” Klein said.

According to Sanford Health’s weekly hospitalizations chart, no patients with COVID who are boosted are in the ICU or on ventilators.