Elderly, ‘high risk’ South Dakotans can get COVID-19 vaccine beginning next week

The first doses of the Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vaccine in Rapid City were given out to...
The first doses of the Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vaccine in Rapid City were given out to Monument Health staff last night. Tuesday morning the first shots were given to caregivers outside of the Monument Health system.(Miranda O'Bryan)
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 3:40 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakotans who are older than 80 and have two or more underlying conditions could be vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as next week, according to the South Dakota Department of Health.

The announcement marks a jump ahead in the state’s vaccine administration progress. The state says they’ll start vaccinating this group of people on Jan. 18.

Last week, health officials said vaccinations for people in Phase 1D would likely not be available until February. Health officials updated the plan on Jan. 13 saying that Phase 1D will start age-based vaccinations with those age 80 and older, and will be expanded to 65-year-olds and older as vaccines come available, according to Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon.

One of those changes: federal officials will stop holding back the required second doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, effectively doubling the supply. Both those shots require two doses to achieve optimum protection. But health officials say South Dakotans who haven’t got their second dose don’t need to worry.

“We want to reassure those who’ve already received their first dose, and those in groups A through C who are already in the queue, that their second dose will be available,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

Another big change at the federal level may mean South Dakota will receive more doses than other states. Officials with the federal government’s vaccine program, known as Operation Warp Speed, say they will base each state’s allocation of vaccines partly on how successful states have been in administering those already provided.

South Dakota has been among the fastest states to administer vaccines since they became available last month. The state is currently second in the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 people, according to the CDC - behind only West Virginia. As of Wednesday, 39,954 South Dakotans have received at least an initial dose of the available duo of two-shot vaccines, or 4.5% of the state’s population. The state has initially prioritized healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents and first responders.

“Shots in the arm, that’s our goal,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

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