35K vaccine doses for older Minnesotans this week; permanent sites to open

A close up of a vial and needle.
Registered nurse Darcey McCampbell draws a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 21 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, Minn.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News file

State health officials say they're prepared to distribute 35,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week to Minnesotans 65 and older.

An announcement from Gov. Tim Walz’s office Monday morning calls the plan an "all of the above" approach that will offer shots at clinics, community vaccination sites and hospitals around Minnesota.

The effort includes a new online vaccination finder, which follows an online lottery system. Last week, officials said more than 226,000 people signed up online and by phone for a chance at one of the roughly 8,000 doses available.

The plan also includes two large-scale community vaccination sites in Minneapolis and Duluth. A third vaccination site for southern Minnesota is also in the works.

The update comes as the most recent report from health officials shows about 418,000 Minnesotans — 7.6 percent of state residents — have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nearly 112,000 people — about 2 percent of state residents — have received both doses to complete the vaccination.

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An explanation on the Department of Health website says a new provider — Vault Health — will continue working through the list of people who previously signed up for the community vaccination program.

Preregistration last week was provided by PrimaryBio, and featured an erroneous cancellation notice to thousands of people over the weekend. There still aren’t explicit instructions directed at people who signed up for the lottery already, and the page seems to mistakenly include some draft language.

Monday’s announcement also said the state will enlist local public health providers at 35 locations around the state to vaccinate teachers and child care staff. A state-run vaccination site in Minneapolis is scheduled for this week, and pharmacies in Brainerd, St. Cloud and Rochester are also opening to educators.

Teachers and child care staff will be contacted directly for appointments with the state program, and local public health will reach out to schools and child care providers.