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Health Officials Continue To Combat Vaccine Hesitancy In The State


South Dakota has one of the highest percentages of people in the nation who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. But it also has some of the highest percentages of vaccine hesitancy.  

Dr. Shankar Kurra is vice president of medical affairs at Monument Health. He says that hesitancy could allow history to repeat itself.  

“And this is where we've seen even measles reemerged in small communities that decide not to vaccinate their children. And this is kind of the same phenomenon at a smaller scale and smaller timeline. All of a sudden, the people who are vulnerable got the vaccine, and those who believe they're not are saying, Well, I don't see the numbers. I don't need to get vaccinated. And this is a fallacy” 

Kurra adds getting vaccinated is especially important as cases of the P.1 variant have been detected in the state.  

“Theoretically if we continue to not vaccinate most of our folks there can be variants developed that can escape the our immune system that has been designed by these vaccines to cover all the variants. The more we can get vaccinated, the less likely a variant will emerge that will escape. So it's very important, the more reluctant We are, we are giving the virus the chance to form a new variant. And that's that's really the race we're against.” 

Kurra says the goal is to get 80 percent of South Dakotans vaccinated. He says all health organizations in the state are focused on addressing peoples questions and concerns. He adds the sooner people get vaccinated the sooner life can return to normal.  

More than half of South Dakotans have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Roughly 43 percent of South Dakotans have finished the vaccine series.