I've heard lots of opinions these past couple months from family and friends that vaccines against COVID-19 work. I've also heard from other family members and friends, some of them anti-vaccine folks, that if/once you have survived COVID-19 you have natural immunity that protects you during future exposures to the virus. To me, the comforting news is the numbers collected here in South Dakota, both sides of this discussion are correct.
Month after month, analysis by local papers and our hospital system have consistently shown the following to be true.
To this point, breakthrough cases have been uncommon in the state: As of Dec. 14, just 2% of state residents who were fully vaccinated had gone on to test positive for coronavirus. Of those, they've accounted for about 30% of all COVID deaths since last spring.
More than 60% of the state's eligible population is fully vaccinated, and 75% have received at least one dose.
Prior infection among state residents has also proven durable to this point. As of Dec. 14, less than 1% of those who had a confirmed infection had gone on to test positive a second time.
As recent news article have stated, these number could change with new COVID variants such as omicron. But the fact is we don't have those number just yet beyond anecdotal evidence. Like elsewhere the concern isn't so much on how many people test positive for the virus but the hospitalization rates which is again unknown for omicron. But what we do know is that for many vaccines do have a positive impact in this fight against all variants of this virus so far. The Avera Medical Group and Sanford Health estimate that 85% to 90% of recent COVID deaths have been among those not vaccinated against COVID.
According to the South Dakota Department of Health, 74% of teens and adults in the state have had at least one dose of the vaccine. With a four week lag time in identification, the most dominate variant of COVID-19 being reported in South Dakota is still the Delta variant.