Community vaccination clinics will begin administering the coronavirus vaccine to a broader group of Minnesotans this week under a pilot program announced by state officials on Monday.
A limited number of vaccines will be offered to Minnesotans aged 65 and older, educators and child care workers at nine community vaccination clinics set to open beginning Thursday.
Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said an extremely limited number of residents in the newly-eligible categories will be vaccinated under the pilot program as demand far outweighs supply being shipped from the federal government.
"We desperately need more doses from the federal government, and frankly (we) are leaving no stone unturned in trying to do that," Malcolm said.
Minnesota currently receives 60,000 vaccine doses per week, according to state officials.
Without an increase in the current supply rate, state health officials estimate it would take approximately four and half months to vaccinate the Minnesotans in the three newly-eligible categories.
HealthPartners Chief Executive Officer Andrea Walsh said Minnesota's healthcare infrastructure is ultimately well-prepared for mass vaccination efforts, and the pace of the vaccine roll-out depends on the federal government.
HealthPartners could vaccinate as many Minnesotans in one day as the federal shipments currently allows the state to vaccinate in one week, Walsch told reporters Monday.
The pilot program announced Monday will serve as a test-run for mass vaccination clinics, but does not mark the state's formal shift into vaccinating residents in the "1B" priority category.
"We're not sitting still," Malcolm said. "We are moving in the direction that we know the next wave of vaccinations will go."
On Tuesday, Jan. 19, at noon the state will launch a website and phone line for Minnesotans aged 65 and older who are looking to schedule a vaccine appointment at one of the community clinics.
Eligible education and child care workers will be given further information regarding vaccine availability and scheduling from their employer, Malcolm said.
There will be no walk-ins allowed at the clinics.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he hopes eligible Minnesotans will consider their risk-level when deciding whether or not to seek an appointment considering the limited availability the state is facing.
The latest numbers
As of Jan. 15, the state health department reports 194,462 Minnesotans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and 38,025 have completed the two-dose series.
In Scott County, the state reports 3,892 residents have received at least one vaccine dose and 802 residents have completed the series. In Carver County, the state reports 2,861 residents have received at least one vaccine dose and 699 residents have completed the series.
Percent of metro population vaccinated by county as of Jan. 17:
- Scott County: 2.8% (0.6% with completed series)
- Dakota County: 2.8% (0.6%)
- Carver County: 2.9% (0.7%)
- Hennepin County: 3.3% (0.7%)
- Ramsey County: 3.4% (0.7%)
- Anoka County: 2.5% (0.5%)
- Washington County: 3.5% (0.7%)
Mahnomen County in northwest Minnesota reports the highest rate of vaccination with 17% of the population having received at least one dose as of Jan. 17.
Olmsted County, where Mayo Clinic is located, reported the second highest vaccination rate with 12% of the population having received at least one dose as of Jan. 17.
Mahnomen County in northwest Minnesota reports the highest rate of vaccination with 17% of the population having received at least one dose as of Jan. 15.
Olmsted County, where Mayo Clinic is located, reported the second highest vaccination rate with nearly 12% of the population having received at least one dose as of Jan. 15.
State health officials say the state's vaccination data might not reflect Minnesotans who were vaccinated by an entity receiving doses directly from the federal government, such as Veteran's Affairs.