Rep. Dusty Johnson gets COVID shot, promotes vaccination

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson received a shot for the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota as part of an effort to promote widespread vaccinations in order to extinguish the pandemic.

“This is how we get back to normal,” Johnson, a Republican, said shortly after receiving the shot at a Sanford Health facility.

South Dakota opened vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older Monday, and it has recorded one of the nation’s highest rates of people fully vaccinated. But the congressman noted that as a man in his 40s, he represented a demographic that has been hesitant to get a vaccine. Although Johnson had an opportunity to get the vaccine when members of Congress received early access, he decided to wait until it was widely available.

“Now is the time for people to step up, even if they’re young, even if they’re healthy,” he said.

About 46% of people statewide have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the Department of Health reported. But it also reported 163 new cases and 98 people in the hospital with the virus.

However, active infections fell to 2,419 statewide. No deaths were reported Tuesday, but 1,938 have died since the start of the pandemic.