PIERRE — Beginning Monday, South Dakota will move to a new priority group for COVID-19 vaccinations that will include more than 220,000 residents who have yet to receive one dose of the vaccine.

The state is prepared to move from the 1D category which includes those 65 and older, people with underlying medical conditions, educators, daycare providers and people living in group homes. To the 1E group which includes front-line workers and firefighters.

“Given our increased access points and overall increase in vaccine supply in the state and our ability to move through priority populations…we will be moving to the priority group 1E,” Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said during the health department’s bi-weekly news conference Wednesday.

They will start the 1E category with Phase 1 which includes fire service personnel and other critical infrastructure workers such as water and wastewater, energy, finance, food service, food and agriculture, legal, manufacturing, shelter and housing, transportation and logistics, information technology and communications.

Malsam-Rysdon said President Joe Biden announced last week his goal of providing all adults in the country access to the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1.

“Given Gov. Noem’s strong leadership and the work of all of our partners across the state, we feel that our state is actually ahead of this timeline. We will continue to move forward and are confident that if the allocations hold up and increase as projected that we will be able to see all adults eligible for vaccination before May 1st,” she said.

That would be Phase 2 of the 1E category which includes all South Dakotans 16 years and older eligible for the vaccine.

To date, about 315,000 South Dakotans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. That is up 86,000 people from just two weeks ago, Malsam-Rysdon said.

“We’re very pleased to see that kind of progress,” she said.

Those who have completed the two-dose series of the vaccination is now at 117,000, she said. Add in inoculations done by the Indian Health Service and federal entities in the state, about 35 percent of the state’s population has been vaccinated thus far.

Those numbers are based on the 2019 census estimate for those aged 16 years and older in South Dakota.

“We’re glad to see those numbers,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

South Dakota will get about 21,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine next week – that includes 11,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 8,300 doses of Moderna and 1,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson.

The doses the state gets does not include supply that is being distributed directly to participants in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program nor the Indian Health Service or VA, she said.

The state now has 65 locations participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. In western South Dakota, those sites include Prairie Hills Pharmacy, 319 Summit St., Belle Fourche, Target CVS Pharmacy, 1415 Eglin St., Rapid City; The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, 1304 Mount Rushmore Rd., Rapid City; Walgreens, 540 Mount Rushmore Rd., Rapid City; and Walmart Pharmacy, 1200 N. Lacrosse St., Rapid City.

It was a directive of the federal government to those Federal Retail Pharmacy Program participants two weeks ago that allowed teachers and other educators to get their COVID-19 inoculations even before the state had made them a priority group.

“The state moved shortly thereafter to that next phase with our state allocated doses,” she said. “We have seen great progress working through the teacher population to the point where we feel that we are ready to get down to that 1E population starting on Monday.”

South Dakota health officials reported three new deaths and 176 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. The three new deaths sends the state’s death toll to 1,915.

Active cases of the virus dropped by 37 Wednesday to 2,107 and the number of people hospitalized totaled 68.

Meade County added three new cases and there was one new case each in Lawrence and Butte counties.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton says there has still just been two reported variants of COVID-19 in the state, and those two cases were in Minnehaha County.

Clayton says the three vaccines that are currently being used in the state seem to protect against the new variants.

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(1) comment

Mr. Silppyfist

"Gov. Noem’s strong leadership..." Oh yeah? When?

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