South Dakota health care systems ready to inoculate children

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Two of South Dakota’s largest health care systems are beginning to vaccine children ages 5 to 11 for COVID-19 now that Pfizer doses are arriving at their hospitals and clinics.

Both Sanford Health and Avera Health say they are ready for the rush of vaccine appointments.

Sanford’s Dr. Joseph Segeleon says pediatric vaccinations will help bring the end of the pandemic closer.

Segeleon said people should start thinking of COVID-19 as a vaccine preventable disease. He said children already receive vaccines for other diseases.

“We give vaccines for chickenpox. We give vaccines for influenza. Why do we do that? We want to reduce severe disease in children. We want to reduce death. And we want to reduce the disease burden of that infectious disease in the community,” said Segeleon.

Some parents are already trying to find the quickest way to get their children vaccinated, knowing that it will help protect their family.

Morgan Bartlett said her daughter just turned 5 years old a couple of months ago and plans to get her vaccinated not only for her health, but for the protection of the rest of her family.

“So for us to be completely vaccinated like this, just adds another layer of security that we need. And it will help us kind of continue to move forward and feel more comfortable being around other people.” said Bartlett.

At Sanford, parents can start calling Thursday to set up appointments to get their children vaccinated. At Avera, parents can call their clinic to get more information on when and where to get the vaccine as well.