Beginning Monday, state vaccination age drops to 65

Beginning Monday the eligible vaccination age drops to 65. Pioneer file photo

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PIERRE — The South Dakota Department of Health has announced that starting on Monday the age of those who qualify to receive their COVID-19 vaccination will be dropping to those who are 65 and over.

The announcement comes as the Department of Health and Phase I vaccinators have been making significant progress within Group D of the state’s vaccination plan over the past few weeks.

Kim Malsam-Rysdon, South Dakota secretary of Health, said the state is in a strong position when it comes to vaccination efforts.

“These factors, in addition to increased vaccine allocations, has allowed us to progress through Group D efficiently and open up vaccination statewide to those over 65 starting Monday,” she said.

When the vaccination was first made available, the state limited the shots to individuals 80 and over. In the past two weeks, the vaccination age has been dropped by five-year increments in South Dakota. Over this period, the state’s federal vaccine allocation has increased to 17,660 weekly doses — not including those received by the VA and Indian Health Service.

Additionally, the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program was activated in the state and makes available vaccinations, over and above the state’s allocation, through retail pharmacies. None of the participating pharmacies are in western South Dakota.

Kim Malsam-Rysdon was asked Wednesday during the weekly DOH news conference if people have available the opportunity to get a shot at either a health care agency or a pharmacy should they sign up to get on the wait list for both.

“We do recommend that people understand all the options that they potentially have,” she said. “If they are still in that waiting status, they should sign up with any potential providers of vaccine.”

Malsam-Rysdon said the state has doled out 158,505 doses of vaccine with 107,340 people getting vaccinated so far. Sixteen percent of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine with nearly 8% receiving both doses.

In Meade County, 2,008 people have been vaccinated and Lawrence has vaccinated 2,583.

South Dakota health officials reported 95 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday.

After an increase Monday, active cases decreased Wednesday to 2,072.

The number of people hospitalized also decreased from 97 to 94.

No new deaths were reported Wednesday, keeping the state’s death toll at 1,844.

Meade County reported seven new cases for a total of 2,542. There are 52 active cases remaining in Meade County.

Lawrence County and Butte County each added one new case Wednesday.

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