ST. PAUL, Minn. – A COVID-19 vaccine pilot program will provide shots to adults 65 and older, pre-k through 12th grade educators, school staff and child care workers.
Nine pilot sites will launch this week, including one in Rochester, to serve as the foundation of mass vaccination clinics once the federal government increases the vaccine supply.
“We are building for the future and doing what we can to get more shots to Minnesotans right now,” says Governor Tim Walz. “By beginning to serve those age 65 and older, educators and child care workers, we are immunizing for impact. It’s a step in the right direction on this long road to recovery. The federal government has been giving mixed messages on vaccine availability and guidance, and we need them to step up and get more vaccine to the state. When they do, we will be ready. The end of this pandemic is closer today than it was yesterday.”
In consultation with state officials, healthcare providers are developing systems to let their 65-or-older patients know when they can start making appointments for a vaccine. Providers will contact patients with this information – Minnesotans should not contact their providers directly right now.
“Educators and childcare workers care for the mental and emotional well-being of our children, and we know that childcare workers are disproportionately women of color, who have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. We owe it to them to support their health and safety,” says Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. By making them available to our teachers, school personnel, and childcare providers, we will provide peace of mind as they do their vital jobs.”
Pilot sites will begin offering vaccines on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of this week. The Minnesota Department of Health will provide more information and will make appointment scheduling available on mn.gov/vaccine at approximately noon on Tuesday.
The pilot sites are in:
Thief River Falls
State Representative Nels Pierson, R-Rochester, issued the following statement about the new Rochester COVID-19 vaccine pilot site:
"This pilot site will be critical to keeping vulnerable Minnesotans safe and helping our community, our businesses, and our schools reopen and help life get back to normal," Pierson said. "We have the greatest health care system in the world here in our backyard, and it's encouraging to see that our aging Minnesotans, teachers, and childcare providers will have options available in Rochester. I hope folks will remain patient as we work to distribute the vaccine to these individuals, and eventually every Minnesotan who wants it."
State Representative Duane Quam, R-Byron, issued the following statement:
"Rochester and Olmstead County are leading the way for vaccine distribution with more than 10 percent of the county already vaccinated. I'm grateful that Rochester was among the nine sites selected so we can keep making progress helping our higher-risk neighbors, teachers, and childcare providers. I will continue to share information about this pilot site, and other vaccine opportunities for Minnesotans who wish to receive it as it becomes available."
The Minnesota Department of Health on Monday reported 194,462 people, or 3.5% of the state population, has received first doses and that 38,025 have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.