Gov. Tim Walz announces next steps in Minnesota’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

People with specific high-risk health conditions and targeted essential workers will be eligible in April

MINNESOTA (KVRR) – Minnesota’s vaccine plan moving forward focuses on those who’ve been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic: the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, BIPOC communities, and essential workers.

Gov. Tim Walz says he wants 70% of Minnesotans 65 years and older vaccinated by the end of March.

Vaccine eligibility will be expanded once that goal is reached.

“This is time for us to dig deep and let’s finish this thing,” Walz said. “The end is in sight, we can finish this, we can do it the right way.”

A new timeline shared at a press briefing Wednesday shows those with higher risk of exposure or specific serious illnesses will be eligible beginning in April.

That includes Minnesotans with sickle cell disease, Down Syndrome, those who are immunocompromised from an organ transplant, suffering from chronic lung or heart conditions, or are in active cancer treatment.

“75% of the deaths in Minnesota have been associated with these conditions,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “So, with the combination of age and conditions, we are talking now about reaching and protecting the most vulnerable people.”

Food processing plant employees will also be eligible in April.

“As you might remember, around the country and here in Minnesota, these were some of the largest and most severe outbreaks that we saw, and we know that the population working in these plants are significantly BIPOC community members and people living in multigenerational households,” Malcolm added.

Moving forward through April and into May, vaccines will be more broadly available to people with high-risk conditions based on age.

That includes 45 to 64-year-olds with at least one underlying medical condition and 16 to 44-year-olds with two underlying conditions.

This phase will also include other essential frontline workers and people 50 years and older living in multigenerational households.

Around June, anyone 16 and older with an underlying health condition and those older than 50 can get their shots.

“This is a freeway that’s being built, and that freeway is running and we’re almost done with the healthcare folks. The seniors, we’re moving up and we’re going to get to 70%. That lane will continue on at 65 MPH, and we will merge in another lane because we have more vaccines, and that lane will go on, and as that lane starts to get further down the line, we’ll merge more people, and this will accelerate,” explained Walz.

By this summer, Walz says every Minnesotan who wants a shot will be able to get one.

With more vaccines being manufactured, he says there’s a chance the timeline will move even quicker.

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Categories: Coronavirus, Coronavirus-MN, Health, Local News, Minnesota News