PIERRE — South Dakota continues to lead the nation in number of doses of  COVID-19 vaccinations administered.

South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon attributes the success to several factors, chief among them is the willingness of South Dakotas to step up to receive the vaccine.

“We’re very pleased that people in South Dakota are wanting the vaccine and getting the vaccine when it has been made available to them,” she said during the Department of Health’s weekly news conference Wednesday.

To date, 31,267 South Dakotans have received the COVID-19 vaccine, and of those, 101 have gotten the second dose required to complete the process.

“Our state is doing very well. We remain at the top of all states when it comes to vaccine distribution,” she said.

Malsam-Rysdon says the state, along with its partner healthcare groups have been working on the roll-out of the vaccine since August.

In the process, the state made a priority of being transparent about what is known about the vaccine and the allocations the state is and will receive.

“Definitely we are all about preparing and not panicking. That preparation has helped us as well as our experience with other mass vaccination campaigns including the H1-N1 experience several years ago,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

The state is notified weekly as to how many doses it can expect. So far, that number has hovered around 11,000 weekly, Malsam-Rysdon said.

According to the CDC COVID data tracker, the state of South Dakota has received 45,275 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to date with 31,267 being given. Those numbers do not include doses that would be going to the Indian Health Service, Veterans Administration health centers, and to the National Guard. Also, there are federal contractors, such as Walgreens, who are administering vaccines to nursing home or assisted living patients.

That means the state has administered more than 70 percent of the vaccine it has been allocated with about 14,008 doses still on the shelf to be given.

There is always going to be vaccine being received with vaccine “in play” to give to priority populations, said State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton.

Malsam-Rysdon lauded the efforts of Monument Health, Sanford, Avera, Mobridge Hospital and Northern Plains Health Network for their efforts to vaccinate South Dakotans.

“They have really stepped up and have been working extremely hard to get vaccines into arms,” she said.

The state is working in phases through its priority populations.

Here is the breakdown including number of people in each group:

Phase 1A (mostly complete): Frontline healthcare workers and long-term care facility healthcare workers, 19,265

Phase 1B (mostly complete): Long-term care residents, 10,867

Phase 1C (This is the phase the state is in currently): EMS/Public health workers, law enforcement and correctional officers, 49,642

Phase 1D (The state will move to this phase in February):  Persons with 2 or more underlying medical conditions, persons aged 65 years and older, residents in congregate settings (such as group homes), teachers and other school/college staff, and funeral service workers, 265,561

Vaccine for all South Dakotans isn’t expected until May 2021.

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