New vaccination options available for Minnesota seniors

Retail Pharmacy Program

Governor Walz announced this week that Walmart, Walgreens, and Thrifty White pharmacies across the state have received COVID-19 vaccine doses, both through a new federal program and from the state’s allocation, for Minnesotans aged 65+. The allocations dedicated to these pharmacies are still small compared to the demand, but these provide another option for vaccination since many health systems are starting with established patients or higher age groups first.

Minnesotans 65+ can find a vaccine location closest to them using the state’s vaccine finder map.

Community vaccine sites
Another community vaccination site opened in Rochester at the Mayo Civic Center this week, joining Minneapolis and Duluth as permanent sites. Appointments for Minnesotans over 65 on the pre-registry waitlist, teachers, and child care workers continue to be scheduled at these sites. For more information, see the Covid-19 Community Vaccination Program FAQ.  

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
Minnesota has been allocating vaccine doses to FQHCs, also known as community health centers, over the past month in an effort to target underserved populations. These health centers serve 200,000 Minnesotans across the state; many of these patients fall below the federal poverty line or are uninsured and nearly 70 percent are people of color. Starting the week of Feb. 15, some FQHCs will begin directly receiving vaccine supply from the federal government as well, beginning with those that specialize in caring for hard-to-reach and disproportionately affected populations.

Minnesota’s racial and ethnic minorities are dying from COVID-19 at rates two to four times higher than the white population and are more likely to be hospitalized for severe illness. These direct allocations to community health centers are a start, but significantly more work needs to be done to ensure the state’s vaccination rollout has an equity focus.