When the COVID-19 pandemic began to unleash its wrath on the U.S. population, the race was on to develop and distribute vaccines to battle this scourge as quickly and safely as possible. Importantly, getting those vaccines into the arms of Americans was and remains a challenge. The year 2020 and early 2021 have been rife with stories about citizens having difficulty scheduling an appointment and then getting the vaccine administered. In some places, the situation was often described as chaotic.
South Dakota has fared much better. In fact, as of March 12th, Center for Disease Control data published in the New York Times indicated the state was a leader in getting citizens vaccinated for COVID. Just over one out of every four South Dakotans (26%) had received at least one dose. Only Connecticut, New Mexico and Alaska had higher figures.
Of course, differences from state to state are caused by a wide range of circumstances, but aspect of the success realized by South Dakota has been due to the smooth rollout of vaccinations coordinated by the Veterans Administration. Retired Air Force Colonel Jim Cowan of Rapid City can attest to the efficiency and smooth rollout of the vaccine through the VA Black Hills Health Care System.
VA Black Hills spokesperson Terese Forbes has noted that "The drive-through vaccinations of our priority group – those 75 years of age and older – was particularly effective in the beginning."