Minnesota to Leave COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Open

Minnesota will expand COVID-19 vaccination to all state residents age 16 and older starting Tuesday, according to a spokesman for Gov. Tim Walz.

The expansion marks an important milestone in Minnesota’s vaccine strategy. Currently, only people with certain underlying health conditions, as well as those with jobs or living arrangements that put them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, have been eligible for vaccination.

Walz plans to outline the changes and the reasons he is going in this direction during a speech late Friday morning.

In a regular call with reporters ahead of Thursday afternoon’s announcement, Health Department leaders said they expect a big expansion in vaccine doses by early April. It would be enough to give 300,000 Minnesotans their first injection and an additional 200,000 doses to provide people with a second injection.

Even with increased dosages and relaxed eligibility requirements, health officials said the state will continue to focus its vaccine efforts toward the most vulnerable Minnesotans, in the way they allocate the supply of vaccines across the state and in your communications with suppliers.

“The bottom line is that even as eligibility expands, this real immunization approach will continue to exist for impact and from an impact perspective,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters during the briefing. He did not disclose details of the new policy on the call, but hinted at an expansion on the horizon.

He said that people will have to keep their expectations in check.

“That healthy 20-year-old could be said, ‘Yes, you’re eligible, but we don’t have a vaccine for you this week. We’ll let you know when we do,'” Malcolm said.

Malcolm said that any new guidance that Walz publishes will be intended to provide flexibility for providers.

“Just don’t slow down and wait for the next category of eligibility, but be a little more flexible and able to meet the specific conditions in your community,” he said.

In some places, there has been more supply than demand, which means that pharmacies and other providers have had to decide how to consume the doses. In other parts of the state, more eligible people seek their vaccines than the supply allows.

Minnesota’s position mirrors that of other states that have made the vaccine available to children 16 and older and to all adults.

President Joe Biden has said that states should strive to provide the vaccine to anyone who wants it by May 1.

The data in these charts is based on the Minnesota Department of Health cumulative totals posted at 11 am each day. You can find more detailed statistics on COVID-19 at Health Department website.

The coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, coughs, and sneezes, similar to the way the flu spreads.

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