Update: 11:55 a.m.
This is news that hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans have been waiting for.
All Minnesotans aged 16 and over will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting next Tuesday, March 30. This marks a huge step forward in the state’s vaccination strategy.
“It’s a beautiful day, Minnesota,” Governor Tim Walz said on Friday as he officially announced the widening of eligibility.
“We are here to end this pandemic,” Walz said. “Today is one of the days when we can start to take the big leap forward.”
Walz presented the details of the new plan in a speech and a press conference.
He said a “dramatic increase” in the federal government’s vaccine supply is expected in April. “They’re in the pipeline and they’re coming, and we’ll see it from next week.”
Walz stressed that the expansion doesn’t mean everyone will get a vaccine next week – but “it means you’re online. He said there was enough confidence in the state’s vaccine supply and distribution system to warrant the dramatic expansion.
“Families – you can go together and get everyone immunized. … There are no barriers, there are no costs, ”said Walz. “This is how we are breaking the back of this pandemic. … Vaccines in guns allow us to defeat this thing.
Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the expansion would provide maximum flexibility for healthcare providers and other vaccination sites, to get arm shots as quickly as possible.
But the race continues between vaccinations and the spread of COVID variants in Minnesota. Walz stressed the importance of continuing to wear masks and following other safety measures – as well as getting tested after possible exposure to the coronavirus.
“None of this is stopping” as the vaccinations continue, he said. “We have the most robust testing system in the country – use it.”
With the infrastructure in place for testing and the provision of the growing vaccine supply, Walz said, “It’s light at the end of the tunnel. This is the time we were waiting for. ”
He called on people in Minnesota to speak with their family, friends and neighbors to encourage them to get vaccinated as soon as they can.
Currently, people with certain health conditions, as well as people whose age, work or living conditions make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, can get vaccinated.
The state’s initial rollout plan included opening it up to more people with more underlying health conditions – and more people in occupations that put them at higher risk of getting and to spread 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 on Thursday called for patience with the expansion on the horizon. Eligibility, they warned, doesn’t mean instant access – and vaccine supply still falls short of current demand.
State health officials said Thursday that in early April, Minnesota should expect a significant increase in its current vaccine supply: around 500,000 doses in total, of which 200,000 will go to people who need it. a second vaccine, and the remaining 300,000 for people. who need their first shots.
The state is now expected to receive just over 300,000 doses for the coming week, about half of which is allocated to people who need their second injection.
As of the start of the week, about 33% of Minnesota’s population aged 16 and over had received at least one injection of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both require a two-shot schedule, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one.
In addition, Walz’s office said in a statement Thursday night that Minnesota will continue to offer counseling to health care providers who prioritize immunization of the elderly, people with underlying health conditions and people in front-line jobs. The new expansion, state leaders said, gives providers more flexibility in their immunization strategy.
So far, the state has vaccinated around 80% of people 65 and over, one of its top priority groups. State health officials said on Thursday they were nearing the end of a campaign to offer a vaccine to all who live and work in long-term care facilities.
At the same time, public health officials said, reaching hard-to-target populations, including communities of color, remains a challenge – and a top priority. They said on Thursday that keeping their vision of equitable vaccine access will continue to be a feature of their deployment plan.
The data in these charts is based on cumulative totals from the Minnesota Department of Health released at 11 a.m. daily. You can find more detailed statistics on COVID-19 at Department of Health website.
The coronavirus is transmitted by respiratory droplets, coughs and sneezes, in the same way that the flu can be spread.
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