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Vaccine to be made available to high-risk South Dakotans next week

Moderna vaccine (File photo)
Moderna vaccine (File photo)(Kevin Hagen | AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 4:19 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available some South Dakotans in the general public, health officials announced Wednesday.

Starting Monday, Jan. 18, the Department of Health will begin vaccinating people over the age of 80, as well as those with health conditions that make them particularly susceptible to COVID-19.

The announcement marks a jump ahead in the state’s vaccine administration progress. Last week, health officials said vaccinations for people in “Phase 1D” - which includes high-risk people in the general public - would likely not be available until February.

Sec. of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said the change comes after the federal government modified its vaccine rollout plan in an effort to speed up the delivery of shots to more people.

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.

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

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Expected vaccine availability chart, updated following Jan. 13's announcement that more...
Expected vaccine availability chart, updated following Jan. 13's announcement that more vaccines will soon be available.(South Dakota Dept. of Health)

Phase 1D in South Dakota’s vaccination plan includes people with underlying health conditions, those over age 65, residents in congregate settings, teachers, school staff, and funeral service workers. Health officials say the initial focus is on higher-risk individuals, including people over age 80 and those with with existing health conditions. Vaccines will start being administered to other people in this group when more doses are available.

As of Wednesday, 39,954 South Dakotans have received a COVID-19 vaccine, including just under 8,000 who have received their second dose.

More information about South Dakota’s COVID-19 vaccination plan is available on the Department of Health’s website.

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