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Expert: Dispelling False Claims About Vaccines Comes at Crucial Time

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South Dakota officials say most residents could be eligible for a COVID vaccine later this spring. But public-health experts worry that false claims about vaccines could deter some people from signing up. (Adobe Stock)
South Dakota officials say most residents could be eligible for a COVID vaccine later this spring. But public-health experts worry that false claims about vaccines could deter some people from signing up. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen - Producer, Contact
March 26, 2021

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A number of states are moving closer to expanding COVID-19 vaccinations to their general populations. But public-health experts warn that progress in places such as South Dakota could be hindered if false claims about vaccines keep spreading.

Since vaccinations for the novel coronavirus came on board, the Mount Rushmore State has received praise for how it's distributed doses to vulnerable residents.

Assistant Professor Aaron Hunt is the coordinator of the Masters of Public Health Program at South Dakota State University. He said to stay on the right path, residents need to adhere to messaging from trusted sources.

He said he worries too many people still might believe claims, mainly posted on social media, that the shots are deadly.

"The death one, yeah, that was really concerning and very misleading," said Hunt. "Because the clinical trials - when they were closely monitoring thousands of people - they did not see that at all."

He said while the vaccinations came together rather quickly, they did go through rigorous stages of review. He added that it's crucial for residents to get a vaccination when eligibility opens up because the state is starting to see more infections after a steady decline.

Experts encourage residents to get their information through reputable news organizations or through public-health departments.

A number of national polls have shown that a high percentage of Republican men will choose not to get a vaccine.

Hunt said given South Dakota's reputation as a conservative state, that is a concern. He said politics need to be taken out of the situation.

"This isn't about if you're a Republican, Democrat, independent," said Hunt. "We really just want to slow COVID [and] end this pandemic."

He said people getting vaccinations as soon as they're eligible also can help to slow the COVID variants that have been popping up.

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