Members of the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee learned more about the state’s vaccine rollout this week. This process is moving faster over recent weeks, with over 300,000 Minnesotans having received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Still, the demand for the vaccine is much greater than the supply. Doctors, local public health experts, and pharmacies across the state are working hard to finish first priority groups, which includes health care workers and residents in long-term care settings like nursing homes and assisted living facilities. At the same time, people over the age of 65, teachers, and childcare workers continue to be eligible for the opportunity to get vaccinated through pilot sites across the state.
More than 200,000 Minnesota seniors pre-registered for a pilot vaccine appointment this week, but the state is still working with extremely limited supplies. Major changes in registration since last week led to a smoother vaccine lottery system, where people had 24 hours to pre-register and were randomly selected for an appointment. Anyone who pre-registered but was not selected for an appointment will remain on the registration list and will be eligible for selection in future weeks.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) notes that these pilot sites are just the beginning and are not how most seniors and other priority populations will be vaccinated. As Minnesota acquires more supply from the federal government, more locations will open, and people will be able to access the vaccine through their health care provider or local pharmacy.
Governor Walz also announced a plan this week to ensure vaccine administration is moving as fast as possible. The state is implementing new goals and tracking systems to encourage all providers get 90% of the vaccine they’ve received administered within 72 hours and the rest within one week. If a provider does not meet the goals, they should anticipate potential changes to their vaccine allocations. You can track this progress at the State’s updated vaccine data dashboard.
The priority remains older adults, teachers, childcare workers, and other essential workers to become vaccinated as quickly as possible. Older adults are at a much higher risk of developing severe illness due to COVID-19, especially those living in congregate settings, which is why they continue to be a priority during these early vaccination stages. At the same time, teachers and other school employees must also be prioritized to make sure our schools open safely. As states across the country grapple with limited supplies, the federal government must step up and deliver more of the vaccine. The Biden Administration has announced Minnesota’s allocation will be slightly larger in the coming weeks, and DFLers are hopeful this supply will continue to increase so everyone who wants the vaccine can receive one.
To learn more about the vaccine pilot program or pre-registration process, visit: https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine/index.jsp