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Older South Dakotans Urged to Get COVID Booster Shot

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Friday, October 1, 2021   

PIERRE, S.D. -- Several South Dakota health providers are now offering COVID-19 booster shots, and those eligible are being reminded about the need to protect themselves.

Late last month, the Food and Drug Administration approved booster shots for those who had earlier received the Pfizer vaccine.

For the third round of shots, those 65 and older, individuals with underlying medical conditions, and essential workers are deemed eligible.

Erik Gaikowski, state director of AARP South Dakota, said with community spread still a concern, along with broader vaccination reluctance, now is not the time to put it off.

"The fact that we're at this stage in the pandemic, and we're still trying to encourage folks to still just get vaccinated in general, those folks that are eligible for the booster should definitely have that added benefit," Gaikowski asserted.

Among South Dakota's 66 counties, 59 are reported to have "high" community spread of the virus, while less than 60% of the state's eligible population is fully vaccinated. As for booster shots, so far, only Pfizer's has received clearance, and is recommended six months after the initial series of shots were completed.

When vaccines were first made available earlier this year, South Dakota was lauded for its rollout. Gaikowski is hopeful it will be the same for booster shots.

"We've had conversations with the governor's office and department of health, and we definitely encourage them to go with the same rollout, since we had good success early on," Gaikowski recounted.

His group is especially appealing to long-term care facilities to ensure staff and residents get their booster shots. Earlier this year, AARP pressured state, federal and industry leaders to address vaccination gaps among nursing-home workers.

Meanwhile, a recent poll from South Dakota State University said 65% of unvaccinated respondents were "very unlikely" to get their initial shots. As for vaccinated respondents, 85% said it was "very likely" or "somewhat likely" they will get a booster shot.

Disclosure: AARP South Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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