As more vaccine arrives in Minnesota, Governor lays out path to vaccinate all Minnesotans
[ST. PAUL, MN] — Governor Tim Walz announced today that Minnesota will remain focused on vaccinating most of the state’s seniors before expanding eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. Governor Walz issued guidance to vaccinate 70% of adults 65 years of age and older before expanding eligibility, and aims to reach this goal by the end of March. The directive is the latest commitment of the Walz-Flanagan Administration to vaccinating seniors and keeping them safe.
The state has made tremendous progress in vaccinating our most vulnerable population. As of Thursday, Minnesota has vaccinated more than 43% of Minnesotans aged 65 and over. Severe illness and death in our long-term care settings have plummeted as we vaccinated these most at-risk Minnesotans: deaths are down 97% from their November peak, and cases are down 89%.
“We set out to protect the most vulnerable Minnesotans, and we are honoring that commitment. Older Minnesotans have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and we are focused on making sure they get vaccinated and keeping them safe," said Governor Walz. "These vaccines work — we can see that in the plummeting cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in long-term care facilities around our state. We will continue working with a robust network of providers to vaccinate all Minnesota seniors who need the most protection against COVID-19 right away.”
Nearly 90% of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota have come from those aged 65 and over. In January, following relaxed federal guidance, Governor Walz directed healthcare providers to begin vaccinating this group of Minnesotans, ensuring maximum impact for the small number of vaccines the state receives each week.
The state has built a network of providers to get shots to seniors, including healthcare providers, federally qualified health centers, retail pharmacies, local public health, and state-run community sites to provide vaccination coverage for the whole state.
"While we still have far greater demand for vaccine than supply, we are taking critical steps each and every day to provide shots to every Minnesota senior in every community— no matter their personal circumstances,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. "As we move through these phases of expanded vaccine eligibility, we will continue to immunize for impact and ensure equitable distribution and access across the state.”
“COVID-19 has taken a tremendous toll, but the progress we are making against it is very encouraging,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “Every day we are getting closer to the end of this pandemic thanks to these safe and effective vaccines and the hard work of so many Minnesotans. To protect and build on this progress, it is important to get vaccinated when you have the opportunity. It’s also important to continue doing our part to limit the spread of the virus by masking, social distancing, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate.”
Once 70% of the state’s seniors have received the vaccine, Minnesota will expand eligibility based on underlying health conditions and workplace exposure risk. Based on current projections, the next group of Minnesotans eligible for a vaccine will begin getting them in April, and every Minnesotan should be able to get a vaccine by this summer.
The state has developed an expansive infrastructure for vaccinating efficiently and equitably, and every Minnesotan who wants a vaccine will have the opportunity to get one as supply increases in the coming months.
Minnesota will move forward with phases of vaccine eligibility based on science, medical evidence, and federal guidance:
Anticipated timelines for phases are subject to change as vaccine supply from the federal government is adjusted in the coming weeks. Details on these vaccination phases are available on the COVID-19 Response website’s Who’s Getting Vaccinated page. Information about how those groups will get vaccinated will be shared in the coming weeks. All Minnesotans should sign up for the Vaccine Connector to stay informed on their eligibility and get connected to vaccine opportunities once they become eligible.
Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine still far exceeds supply: the weekly supply of vaccine allocated to Minnesota is less than a single percentage point of the number of doses needed to vaccinate all Minnesotans. As we await more vaccine supply from the federal government, Minnesotans need to remain vigilant by wearing a mask, social distancing, getting a test if they have symptoms, and staying home if sick.
“One year into this pandemic, I want to thank Minnesotans for their incredible work rising above and beyond the challenges presented to them and supporting their friends, family and neighbors through one of the most difficult times this state has ever seen,” continued Governor Walz. “We can see the finish line and we have the roadmap. I know we can get there together.”