SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — In South Dakota, teachers, school staff and childcare providers can now go to pharmacies to get vaccinated for COVID-19. But the state's hospital systems, the powerhouses behind the state's quick vaccine rollout, would still turn them away.

Pharmacies in South Dakota began offering COVID-19 vaccinations to educators earlier this week, after the Biden administration required the federal program that sends vaccine doses to pharmacies open access to teachers.

Yet while some states have followed the federal shift and widened their vaccination strategies to include teachers and childcare providers, or were already doing so, South Dakota hasn't yet followed suit.

On Friday, March 5, the state Department of Health posted notice on its social media channels directing educators to pharmacies for the vaccine, making no mention of any plan to broaden access to the vaccine for teachers by authorizing availability at the state's hospital partners.

"We have not made an announcement yet regarding vaccination through state partners (hospital systems)," said Daniel Bucheli, spokesman for the state Department of Health, on Friday.

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The state's priority group now includes those with at least one of a list of underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. The list of underlying conditions is available on the Health Department's website: https://doh.sd.gov/COVID/Vaccine/.

The Biden administration required the federal retail pharmacy program open access to teachers, staff and childcare providers including:

  • Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade;
  • Childcare centers and family childcare providers;
  • Head Start and Early Head Start.

The state now offers an online interactive federal retail pharmacy locator so people can enter their address and find the closest participating pharmacy to set up an appointment.

The varying federal and state policies have created a patchwork of vaccination policies in South Dakota, complicating the path for those wondering if they're eligible and if so, where they should get vaccinated.

The state sets its own policies for those who can receive doses from the shipments it receives from the federal government. But other major suppliers of vaccines in the state include federal agencies including the Indian Health Service and the Veterans Administration, as well as the federal pharmacy program.

Still, the vaccination rollout in South Dakota is going well compared to most other states. State officials calculate at least 30 percent of the state's population has received at least one dose of the available two-dose vaccines, if doses administered by both state and federal programs are added together.

That ranks South Dakota third among U.S. states, according to a New York Times tracker using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Following are the South Dakota Department of Health COVID-19 case rates, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations as of Friday, MArch 6. Because all data is preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES: 164 (seven-day daily average: 157)
  • TOTAL ACTIVE CASES: 2,096
  • TOTAL CASES: 113,229
  • TOTAL RECOVERED: 109,237

  • DAILY TEST POSITIVITY RATE: 4.7%

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • NEW HOSPITALIZATIONS: 17

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 74

  • TOTAL HOSPITALIZATIONS: 6,681

  • DEATHS, NEWLY REPORTED: 0

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 1,896

Vaccinations

  • INITIAL DOSE ADMINISTERED (IF 2-DOSE VACCINE): 158,135, total: 30.39% of population*

  • FULLY VACCINATED: 86,562, total: 20.02% of population*

*(Vaccine dose count based on state distribution. Population percentage includes vaccines given to South Dakota residents through federal programs, including IHS and VA)

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