South Dakota Health Officials Focus On Vaccine Hesitancy

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Among the best in the nation for the percentage of people who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, South Dakota is now turning its focus toward those who are hesitant to get the shots, health officials said.

A map published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows rural states like South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming with some of the highest concentrations of vaccine hesitancy in the country. In central South Dakota, the most rural part of the state, about 29% of people surveyed had reservations about getting vaccinated, the Rapid City Journal reported.

“We know we’ll have to circle back to folks who are hesitant for whatever reason," state Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said, adding that officials are working on ways to make people feel comfortable about taking the vaccine.

Health officials have been emphasizing getting information about the vaccine from trusted sources and “social media is not usually one of them,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

“These viruses will continue to spread. They will find people that are not vaccinated. That’s just how that works," Malsam-Rysdon said. “If you’re part of a group that is less vaccinated, you’re just putting yourself at higher risk of getting the disease and it’s impactful.”