Updated COVID vaccine administered to one in eight Minnesotans

A nurse prepared a COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Kelly Robinson, a nurse and the president of the Black Nurses Rock-Twin Cities Chapter, prepares COVID-19 vaccines during a pop-up youth vaccination clinic in Minneapolis.
Tim Evans for MPR News | 2021

Updated Nov. 20, 10:08 a.m. | Posted Nov. 17, 5 p.m.

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, we want to get you the latest COVID-19 data, starting with an update on vaccinations in Minnesota.  

As of Nov. 13, roughly 720,000 doses of the recently available updated COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Minnesota, accounting for just over 13 percent of the population.  

In other vaccine news, a recent study from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center sheds new light on Minnesota’s initial efforts to vaccinate its population against COVID-19, through 2022.

Notably, disparities existed across age, race and ethnicity in both the overall vaccination rates of population subgroups and how quickly they reached a threshold of 50 percent fully vaccinated.  

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Due to public health policy prioritizing vaccination for older populations, Minnesotans over the age of 65 had higher rates of vaccination by the end of 2022 (98 percent) compared to younger populations in the state.

And they reached a 50 percent threshold of vaccination in only three months; it took younger adults eight months to reach that halfway threshold.  

Clear disparities existed when looking at vaccine data by race and ethnicity. Because Minnesota’s white population skews older, prioritizing older populations meant that white Minnesotans reached 50 percent fully vaccinated in six months, earlier than other racial and ethnic groups except Asian and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander Minnesotans, who also reached the 50 percent threshold in six months.  

It took Black and Latino Minnesotans twice as long to reach 50 percent fully vaccinated, and Minnesota’s American Indian and Alaska Native population took 15 months to reach that threshold. 

Among young adults, Minnesota’s American Indian population had not achieved the 50 percent threshold by the end of 2022, taking more than 24 months to reach that mark.

Asian young adults in Minnesota were fully vaccinated the fastest — with half vaccinated after only five months. Black, white and Latino young adults took nine, 10 and 11 months, respectively.  

A new survey from KFF, formerly known as the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that nationally half of all adults will likely get the updated COVID-19 vaccine, but the survey also reveals racial disparities when it comes to those who plan on getting vaccinated — in this case, however, the disparities are reversed, with fewer white Americans indicating they will pursue getting vaccinated than either Black or Latino Americans.

Majorities of Black adults, 59 percent, and Hispanic or Latino adults, 60 percent, have been vaccinated or plan to be.

Less than half of white adults, 42 percent, indicated they have been vaccinated or plan to be. Just twenty percent of white Republican adults plan to get the vaccine.  

If you’re looking to get vaccinated, use this finder to locate services near you.

COVID-19, flu and RSV hospitalizations remain well below this time last year  

The latest data on the three primary respiratory viruses — COVID-19, influenza and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) — in Twin Cities Metro shows that all three continue to track well below the levels seen at this time last year, at least in terms of hospitalizations.  

Looking at flu in other recent years, however, shows just how much earlier last year’s flu season was in comparison. So, while flu is well below where it was last year, it’s ramping up earlier than the last pre-COVID fall flu season (2019-2020). And, just because it isn’t as high as this time last year, doesn’t mean it will necessarily be a milder flu season.  

influenza hospitalizations by season
This year's flu season is off to slower start than last year, but is taking off earlier than the 2019-2020 season. MMWR Week indicates the week number starting from the first of the calendar and equates roughly to early October.
Minnesota Department of Health

Focusing on COVID-19, preliminary data through Nov. 7 shows hospitalizations ticking up again, following a drop in the prior week.

(This graph uses a Department of Health dataset that is statewide and has slightly more recent data available than in the Twin Cities three-viruses graph above.)  

Since May, COVID deaths have stayed below the weekly averages of last year — except for a brief stint in mid-October, which was after several months of increasing hospitalizations. COVID-19-related deaths are unfortunately still occurring, but the numbers remain far below what we saw in 2020 and 2021.  

minnesota covid 19 deaths by year
For most of the year, there have been fewer COVID deaths than in 2022, and deaths are well below 2020 and 2021 rates.
David Montgomery

COVID-19 levels in wastewater tick up across the state 

The latest statewide wastewater data shows varying increases in COVID-19 levels throughout Minnesota. COVID-19 levels increased roughly 15 percent statewide when comparing the most recent week, Nov. 8, to one week earlier.

This statewide increase reflects increases in six of the seven regions in the University of Minnesota’s Wastewater Surveillance Study, from an increase of roughly four percent in the Twin Cities Metro to 46 percent in the study’s South Central region.  

This weekly increase statewide corresponds to a monthly increase of 23 percent, as of Nov. 8.   

The study’s North West region was the only one to see a weekly decline.

Even with these recent increases in COVID wastewater levels, the levels remain below where they were last spring.   

As a final reminder for those preparing for the upcoming holidays, in addition to taking advantage of flu and COVID-19 vaccines, as well as RSV vaccines for infants and those age 60 or older, both the state of Minnesota and the federal government are still offering free at home COVID-19 tests.