Governor Walz announced this week that 35,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines would be distributed to over 100 health systems, clinics, and local pharmacies across the state for Minnesotans over 65. In addition, two new permanent site clinics launched this week in Minneapolis and Duluth; another in southern MN will be opening soon. More large-scale community clinics may be added in coming weeks, but most eligible Minnesotans will continue to get their vaccine from health care providers.
To help connect older Minnesotans with providers closest to them, the State launched a new vaccine finder tool. Find vaccine locations here: https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine/index.jsp
There’s still not enough vaccine supply in the state for everyone over 65 to get vaccinated right away, with the state’s current allocation it will take weeks to get through the nearly one million seniors in the state. Vaccinations are going faster; providers are administering twice as many shots per day compared to last week after Governor Walz set new expectations for providers to be administering 95% of their doses within three days. Minnesota will also get a slight increase in our weekly vaccine allocations for at least the next three weeks to be used for health care workers, long-term care residents, first responders, school workers, and Minnesotans over the age of 65.
Residents of long-term care facilities have been prioritized since the beginning of the vaccine rollout since they account for 63% of the Covid-19 deaths in Minnesota, largely due to age, underlying health conditions, and how the virus spreads in communal settings. The Minnesota Department of Health shared positive news at the Aging and Long-Term Care committee meeting this week that residents in all of our skilled nursing and assisted living facilities have been offered their first dose of vaccine. Cases and deaths in these facilities have been declining in recent weeks, and state officials are hopeful this trend continues as residents and staff continue to receive their second doses.
Even as prioritization groups expand, there are many high-risk groups who are not eligible for vaccines yet. People with disabilities, full-time caregivers, and others with serious underlying health conditions are in critical need of vaccination, which is why we need the federal government to continue increasing our state’s supply. Until then, DFLers will continue to advocate for an equitable distribution for vaccines among groups who are at high-risk of contracting Covid-19 or suffering severe illness.