Walz Extends Vaccine Eligibility to Minnesotans 16 Years and Older

Updated: 11:55 am

It’s news that hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans have been waiting for.

All Minnesotans age 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting next Tuesday, March 30. It marks a major step forward in the state’s vaccination strategy.

“It’s a great day Minnesota,” Gov. Tim Walz said Friday, formally announcing the eligibility expansion.

“We are here to end this pandemic,” Walz said. “Today is one of the days in which we can begin to make the great leap forward.”

Walz outlined the details of the new plan in a speech and press conference.

He said a “dramatic increase” in the federal government’s supply of vaccines is expected in April. “They are pending and they are coming, and we will see it from next week.”

Walz stressed that the expansion does not mean that everyone will receive a vaccine next week, but rather “means that it is online.” He said there is enough confidence in the state’s vaccine supply and distribution system to justify the dramatic expansion.

“Families: they can go together and vaccinate everyone. … There are no barriers, there is no cost, ”said Walz. “This is how we break the back of this pandemic. … Shots in arms is how we beat this thing. “

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the expansion will provide maximum flexibility to healthcare providers and other vaccination sites, so that vaccines reach the arms as quickly as possible.

But the race continues between vaccines and the spread of COVID variants in Minnesota. Walz stressed the importance of continuing to wear masks and follow other safety measures, in addition to getting tested after possible exposure to the coronavirus.

“None of those things stop” while the vaccines continue, he said. “We have the strongest testing system in the country – use it.”

With the infrastructure in place for testing and to deliver the ever-growing supply of vaccines, Walz said, “this is the light at the end of the tunnel. This is how long we’ve been waiting.”

He called on Minnesotans to speak with their families, friends and neighbors to encourage them to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Launch of vaccines

Right now, people with certain health conditions, as well as people whose age, job, or living conditions make them more vulnerable to receiving COVID-19, are eligible to get vaccinated.

The state’s initial implementation plan first included opening up to more people with more underlying health conditions, and more people in professions that put them at higher risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

But this new development advances that timeline, which originally put the general public online to be eligible for vaccination in the summer.

State health officials asked for patience Thursday with the expansion on the horizon. Eligibility, they cautioned, does not mean instant access, and the supply of vaccines still does not meet current demand.

State health leaders said Thursday that, by early April, Minnesota should expect to see a significant increase in its current vaccine supply – about 500,000 doses in total, 200,000 of which will go to people who need second injections and the remaining 300,000 to people. they need their first injections.

The state is now scheduled to receive just over 300,000 doses by next week, about half of which are assigned to people who need their second injections.

Earlier this week, about 33 percent of Minnesota’s population of people 16 and older have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require a two-shot regimen, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one.

Additionally, Walz’s office said in a statement late Thursday that Minnesota will continue to offer guidance to healthcare providers that prioritizes vaccinating seniors, people with underlying health concerns, and people with frontline jobs. . The new expansion, state leaders said, offers providers more flexibility in their vaccination strategy.

So far, the state has vaccinated about 80 percent of people 65 and older, one of its first priority groups. State health officials said Thursday they are nearing the end of a campaign to offer the vaccine to all people who live and work in long-term care settings.

Meanwhile, state health leaders said, reaching hard-to-reach populations, including communities of color, remains a challenge and a top priority. They said Thursday that keeping an eye on equitable access to the vaccine will remain a feature of their implementation plan.

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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