Hospitals, health care systems and local health departments can begin offering the coronavirus vaccine to broader groups of Minnesotans, including those age 65 and over, the Minnesota Department of Health announced Thursday.
The Jan. 14 announcement allows providers with extra vaccine doses to use them immediately, but does not mark the official start of the state's expanded vaccination efforts, health officials say.
The state's formal shift to vaccinating larger, broader groups will depend on the pace of doses received from the federal government, according to Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.
The number of Minnesotans eligible for the vaccine far out-weighs the number of doses received, Malcolm said during a press briefing Thursday. The new guidance is intended to give immediate flexibility to providers with "relatively few, unclaimed" doses.
As of Jan. 11, the state reports 153,332 Minnesotans, or roughly 2.8% of the population, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 15,082 have completed the two-dose series.