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Dr. Kurra: COVID deaths rising among 40 to 65-year-olds

Dr. Shankar Kurra
Dr. Shankar Kurra in SDPB's Rapid City Studio.

The attached audio is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment.

State health officials report about 6,500 active coronavirus infections in South Dakota and 236 people hospitalized.

Five new deaths bring the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 2,294.

Doctor Shankar Kurra is vice-president of medical affairs at Monument Health in Rapid City. He says the overwhelming majority of recent deaths are among the UN-vaccinated.

He says the best way to mitigate infections, hospitalizations, and deaths is to increase vaccinations.

“Lower vaccination rates lead to a higher amount of COVID deaths — and it depends on the age groups too. For us, the older folks, 65 and older, have a very high rate of vaccination in South Dakota. What it means then is that the 40 to 65-year-olds are where we are seeing this rise in deaths."

Around 1,000 South Dakotans have died with COVID-19 since vaccines became available.

“We need to do more. Clearly, anytime we have lower vaccination rates, especially in that working-age group, we need to do a lot more.”

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children ages 5 to 11. Pfizer and other vaccines are also approved for people 12 and older. About 70 percent of South Dakotans in that age group have received at least one vaccine dose.

94,000 South Dakotans have also received a booster shot.