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MN to jump-start vaccine rollout with 35K doses for seniors – Twin Cities | #television | #elderly | #movies

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says more than 35,000 coronavirus vaccine doses will be available to seniors this week and they will be administered at over 100 hospitals and clinics around the state.

The announcement comes after the state operated a pilot program of nine community vaccination sites for two weeks and demand easily overwhelmed the amount of available doses.

“We still need more supply, but we have to work quickly with what we do have and be ready when the federal government ramps up to meet the demand,” Walz said in a statement announcing the new approach. “Today we’re expanding locations offering the vaccine and helping connect our seniors to shots where they live, so we can get to work crushing COVID-19 across Minnesota.”

The 35,000 doses is a considerable expansion from previous weeks when anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 initial shots were available to seniors. The new doses come from an increased allocation from the federal government and a reallocation of shots reserved for long-term care residents and workers that are not needed immediately.

Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, said the move doesn’t go far enough. Housley, who leads the aging and long-term care committee in the GOP-led Senate, says seniors should be the only priority until more vaccine is available.

“Our seniors have to come first,” Housley said in a statement. “We have 918,000 seniors in our state, and they are at the highest risk for hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID.”

About 89 percent of Minnesotans who’ve died from COVID-19 are 65 or older. Roughly half the 29,000 patients hospitalized because of the coronavirus were seniors.

So far, Minnesota has focused on health care providers and long-term care residents in its top vaccination priority group. Other seniors, educators and child-care workers were added into that group in mid-January, bringing the total number of Minnesotans eligible to about 1.5 million.

ALL OF THE ABOVE APPROACH

Health officials have long said most Minnesotans will get vaccinated at their doctor’s office or local pharmacy — what health officials characterize as an “all-of-the-above” approach that uses every available resource.

The community vaccination pilot was designed to ensure the state had the ability to administer vaccine quickly statewide.

“We have to be able to vaccinate Minnesotans on a large scale efficiently and rapidly when we get more vaccine from the federal government,” said Jan Malcolm, state health commissioner.

The updated statewide vaccine plan also includes a new online map tool to help seniors locate the best place to get vaccinated in their area. The map tool and more details about the expanded vaccine access is available at mn.gov/findmyvaccine.

Minnesota will shift away from the nine temporary community vaccination sites and open three more permanent locations in Duluth, the Twin Cities and a yet-to-be-named southern Minnesota location. Those sites will supplement local providers, clinics and pharmacies that will take over the majority of administration.

However, the 220,000 seniors who pre-registered for vaccine in January will still have a chance through random selection to schedule an appointment at one of the new sites. Those who were previously picked in the lottery will return to their original vaccination site for their second dose.

More than 27,000 seniors, educators and child care workers received vaccine doses last week at the community sites.

LATEST ON THE PANDEMIC

Minnesota has now administered 531,048 vaccine doses with 418,299 receiving at least one shot and 111,715 getting both required doses. More than 831,000 doses have been shipped to the state, but it can take up to a week for those shipments to arrive at providers.

Minnesota recorded two more COVID-19 deaths Monday and another 727 infections were reported by the state Department of Health.

The death toll is 6,202 confirmed COVID-19 fatalities with 68 more deaths suspected to have been caused by the coronavirus, but where those who died never had a positive test.

Those whose deaths were reported Monday were a Ramsey County resident in their late 50s and a Hennepin County resident in their early 90s. One lived in long-term care and the other in a private home.

The 727 new cases puts the state case total at 462,528 since March. Minnesota providers have tested almost 6.6 million samples from 3.2 million residents.

The current, seven-day test positivity rate is 3.3 percent, which is below the 5 percent threshold health officials use to determine whether an outbreak is under control.

While the state of Minnesota’s outbreak is much better than it was in the late fall health officials urged caution. Kris Ehresmann, director of the infectious disease division at the state Department of Health, said some cases tied to restaurants and other reopened activities had started to re-emerge.

“The more transmission we see, the more opportunity the virus has to mutate, and those mutations can have an impact on the effectiveness of the many tools we now have in place,” Ehresmann said.

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