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Avera Medical Minute: Questions and Answers on COVID-19 vaccines in South Dakota

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 4:48 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -

As more vaccines are approved for use and arrive in South Dakota, hope for the end of the pandemic grows. There continues to be a need for social distancing and wearing masks while more of the population is vaccinated. Vice President of Clinical Quality Dr. David Basel talks with Medical Minute reporter Beth Warden in this question and answer series about vaccines, herd immunity, and the importance of continued protection.

Q: What are the latest statistics on South Dakotans being vaccinated?

A: They continue to make great progress with getting vaccines out. About 65% of those 65 or older are now been vaccinated. Starting this week we’ve opened up the chronic illnesses.

Q: And what is on the horizon for more vaccines?

A: So we just got the third vaccine approved here in March and I think there’s going to be a fourth and a fifth coming in the next month or two. I just heard that President Biden announced here this week that he’s anticipating that by the end of May we will have enough vaccines, to get everybody vaccinated that was kind of surprising to me I was thinking more into June and July timeframe and so that makes me optimistic that there’s more doses going to become available soon. So continued progress... continued walk back to normal.

Q: What is the percentage of vaccination in a community that gets you to a point there’s enough immunity?

A: So the big question: When will we hit that herd immunity and things can go back to normal? And we don’t know that exact number, quite frankly, I’ve heard a lot of estimates around 60 70 80 percent what that number is going to be. Practically what that means is as the percent immunized is going up, we’ll start opening things up more and more. And if the numbers start to rise we’ll know that we have to wait a little bit until we get some more people immunized before we can open up to that degree. And so it’s going to be a little bit of trial and error as we go through this spring into summer.

Q: For those who are weary of the masks and social distancing, what would you like to say?

A: I know that people continue to get tired of talking and thinking about the pandemic. First, Thanks... how good of a job everybody’s been doing with social distancing and masking over the last year or so. Hang with us at least a couple more months here to allow that number to get back to get up there and we will get back to much closer to normal. So hang in there just a little bit longer with us.

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