The first wave of students eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine were students who worked in clinical care settings and those who had underlaying heath conditions. On Monday, statewide eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine was extended to all residents 16 and older, according to a press release from the USD COVID-19 Task Force.
This includes all out-of-state students who attend USD, as they reside in the state the majority of the school year.
Kevin O’Kelley, assistant vice president for research compliance at USD and member of USD’s COVID-19 Task Force, said the South Dakota Department of Health decides what company of vaccine is supplied each week.
“It’s not even up to Sanford who’s administering the vaccine there’s a complicated distribution system at the national and the state level,” O’Kelley said. “This week we’ll get more Moderna, or Pfizer, next week we get Johnson and Johnson, we never know from one week to the next”.
O’Kelley said all the vaccines are effective and to not wait on getting vaccinated just for a certain company to become in supply.
“Just take the first vaccine that’s available,” O’Kelley said.
O’Kelley said the rumors that the vaccines make one sick or cause long-term health damage are not true.
“(The vaccine) is highly effective and we encourage you to register as soon as you can,” O’Kelley said.
An assumption that one will get sick after being vaccinated is another reason why students aren’t getting vaccinated.
“If you’ve been sick or if you’ve had COVID-19 within the last 90 days it is recommended to hold off getting the vaccine for a while,” O’Kelley said.
O’Kelley said that it is normal to feel bad for a day or two after one receives their vaccine, but if one is concerned about the side effects they should get medical advice from a medical professional.
“The vaccine is activating your immune system and that can take it out of you,” O’Kelley said. “These are very powerful vaccines, very awesome vaccines, and they really do crank up your immune system”
O’Kelley said if someone is vaccine hesitant, they should reach out to a trusted healthcare provider.
“The key to ending COVID-19 pandemic is not a secret, it’s a vaccination. We all need a vaccine, every single person,” O’Kelley said.
For those who wish to be vaccinated, USD encourages students to visit the Sanford Health website and make an appointment at Sanford Vermillion. There is a large supply of vaccines currently in Vermillion, according to the press release.
Even with full vaccination, the campus will still be requiring face masks and other COVID-19 safety precautions to achieve COVID-19 specific immunity.
For those in the middle of a vaccine series, or still haven’t received a vaccine USD urges students to get COVID-19 tested regularly in the MUC pit for free from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. all weekdays.
“Our community has done a great job protecting each other this year. Now, with widespread vaccine availability and continued testing opportunities, we can better protect ourselves and our loved ones as we work toward a more normal campus experience this fall,” University Relations said.
O’Kelley says that he encourages students to get vaccinated and to get tested weekly until fully vaccinated.
“We’re not safe until we’re all vaccinated. So we’re going to be continuing to wear masks continuing the physical distance until we have a high rate of compliance,” O’Kelley said. “So please get your vaccine as soon as you can.”