Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expands Wednesday

Times Report and Associated Press
Crookston Times

    Starting Wednesday March 10, the State of Minnesota will expand its eligibility for the coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine to include people with underlying health conditions, food processing plant workers, targeted essential workers and people with rare conditions or disabilities that put them at a higher risk of severe illness. Vaccine providers will also be able to offer available appointments to other eligible Minnesotans who wish to get vaccinated. The expansion comes after Governor Tim Walz announced Tuesday that they’ve reached their goal of inoculating at least 70% of people ages 65 and older.

    “Now is not the time to let down our guard on the basic things; Keep the masks on, keep social distancing, start planning. I think it's appropriate that you'll be able to do an awful lot of stuff come this summer,” Walz said during a news conference. “This is a good day, Minnesotans. We're ready to expand to the next group of folks.”

    Walz said the state expects to have 70% of seniors vaccinated by Wednesday, weeks before an earlier projection of the end of March. The governor said he feels a “real sense of urgency” to ramp up vaccination efforts to diminish the impact of coronavirus variants spreading across Minnesota.

    The next two phases include about 1.8 million people.

    The Minnesota Department of Health released a detailed timeline that lists the eligible people that were listed previously and those who can now get their vaccine. Those people include:

    • Minnesotans aged 65 and older

    • Health care workers and people working at health care facilities, first responders who provide direct patient care as part of the EMS system, and primary caregivers for people with complex medical needs or disabilities

        • Long-term care residents and staff members at long-term care facilities in Minnesota

        • Pre-kindergarten through Adult Basic and Community Education school staff members, or contracted school staff members, at schools in Minnesota

        • Child care staff members at licensed and certified child care centers or programs in Minnesota

        • People with specific underlying health conditions:

                - Sickle cell disease, Down Syndrome, or oxygen-dependent chronic lung or heart conditions, and those who are in active cancer treatment or immunocompromised from organ transplant (also listed were Diabetes Type 1 and 2, COPD, obesity, and pregnancy)

        • Targeted essential workers

                - Food processing plants

        • People with rare conditions or disabilities that put them at higher risk

        • People age 45 and older with ONE or more underlying medical conditions; or, age 16 and over with TWO or more underlying medical conditions*

        • People 50+ in multi-generational housing

        • Essential frontline workers

                - Agricultural, airport staff, additional child care workers not previously eligible, correctional settings, first responders, food production, food retail, food service, judicial system workers, manufacturing, public health workers, public transit, Postal Service workers

    “We continue to immunize for impact, giving shots to individuals with underlying medical conditions known to put them at risk of severe COVID-19 illness; or those whose workplaces put them at higher risk of contracting this virus,” said MDH. “We will do this equitably, by increasing allocations to health centers, pharmacies, and community vaccination sites serving BIPOC communities.”

    “All Minnesotans who have not been vaccinated should sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector to stay updated on eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine and connect to local vaccine opportunities when they become available,” they added.

    People who would be eligible in the May-June timeframe to receive the vaccine include those 16 years of age and over with any underlying medical condition, those ages 50-64 regardless of their health condition, and all other essential workforces which include transportation and logistics, finance, housing/shelter construction, IT/communications, energy, media, legal, public safety, water and wastewater. By this summer, the MDH says every Minnesotan who wants a shot will be able to get one.

    As of Monday, 1,655,056 doses of the vaccine had been administered statewide, which includes 592,134 Minnesotans who have received both doses. Nearly 1.9 million doses have been shipped to the state as of Tuesday.

COVID-19 vaccine