On Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz announced Minnesota’s next priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Currently, people living and working in long-term care and health care workers, school and childcare workers, plus those 65 and older are eligible for the vaccine.
Minnesota will make further groups eligible once 70 percent of those 65 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine. As of Tuesday, the most recent data available, 43.5 percent of Minnesotans 65 and older had met that mark and Walz believes the state can hit 70 percent by the end of March.
Over the course of the spring, subsequent groups will become eligible to be vaccinated based on age, underlying health conditions and work exposure risk. The general public is slated to be eligible in the summer.
“By April-May, about 98 to 99 percent of the folks who this proves incredibly serious or a fatality will have been vaccinated and protected,” Walz said in an address announcing the rollout plans.
Once 70 percent of those 65 and older have their first shot, the vaccine rollout is planned as follows:
Eligible in early spring
- Those with high-risk health conditions: People with high-risk health conditions including sickle cell disease, Down syndrome, those undergoing active cancer treatment, people who are immunocompromised from an organ transplant, and those who are oxygen dependent with COPD and congestive heart failure.
- Essential workers: Those who work in food processing plants.
Eligible first in late spring
- Those with underlying health conditions: 45-to-64-year-olds with one or more of the following and 16-to-44-year-olds with two or more of the following: cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down syndrome, heart conditions, immunocompromised, obesity, those who are pregnant, have sickle cell disease or type 2 diabetes (for details, see the infographic below).*
- Essential workers: Those working in agriculture, child care workers not yet eligible, correctional workers, first responders, food production workers, retail food service workers, manufacturing workers, public transit and U.S. Postal Service workers.
- Multigenerational households: Those over the age of 50 living in multigenerational households.
Eligible second in late spring
- Those 16+ with an underlying medical condition* (see above).
- People ages 50 to 64.
Eligible third in late spring
- All other essential workers, including transportation, logistics, finance, housing/shelter construction, IT/communications, energy, media, legal, public safety, water and wastewater workers.
- The general public
The timeline is based on current supplies. It does not include supply of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, expected to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration within days, nor does it account for expected supply increases, which could speed up the process.
Minnesotans have been awaiting news on further vaccine priority groups. While some states outlined their vaccine rollout plans beyond initial steps early, Minnesotans hadn’t gotten an update since mid-January.
The federal government left vaccine eligibility rules largely to the states to create. Minnesota had planned to stick closely to the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP), which put residents and staff of long-term care facilities and health care workers in the first priority group.
Minnesota had yet to make formal recommendations for the second group (based on ACIP recommendations, those 75 and older and essential workers) when the federal government, under pressure to move vaccine more quickly, told states to open up vaccines to anyone 65+ and younger people with underlying health conditions mid-January.
Following that recommendation, Minnesota opened up vaccines to those 65 and older, plus school and childcare workers, and had yet to make any further recommendations until Thursday.
Walz said the vaccine rollout is still hampered by low supply. He said he wishes Minnesota had been delivered enough vaccines to vaccinate Minnesotans right away, but that doses are still being manufactured and sent out.
Walz, who is 56, said he expects to be vaccinated in April or May, and he expects his 20-year-old daughter to be vaccinated in the summer.
Walz said he expected all Minnesotans who want to be vaccinated to have access by summer, seeming to suggest that the State Fair, in some form, might be a possibility.
“The thought of walking down those streets at Dan Patch [Ave.] with a corn dog in hand is, like, the happiest thought I can imagine,” he said. “That is within our reach. That is within our reach if we do things right, if we continue to accelerate, that’s the type of thing we have to look forward to.”