(FOX 9) - All Minnesotans ages 16 and older are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Gov. Tim Walz announced last week he is expanding vaccine eligibility to millions more Minnesotans starting Tuesday, March 30. In a televised speech, the governor set a goal of being the first state to get 80% of its population vaccinated.
Walz and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm cautioned Minnesotans that not everyone who wants an appointment on Tuesday will get one, as vaccine demand still exceeds supply. However, they said any frustrations over trying to find an appointment should resolve themselves over the next four weeks as vaccine shipments from the federal government increase.
Health officials say people should take the first shot that is offered to them, whether it is the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer vaccines or the one and done Johnson & Johnson, to avoid another spike in COVID-19 infections.
There are several ways to go about getting a vaccine appointment, but state officials say the first step should be signing up for the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, if you have not already.
Sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector
All Minnesotans who have not received a vaccine should sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector to get updates on vaccine opportunities and be entered into the random selection process for the state’s community vaccination program sites.
Schedule an appointment at a community vaccination site
You must be signed up for the Vaccine Connector to be eligible to be randomly selected to schedule an appointment at one of the state-run community vaccination sites. Minnesotans are randomly selected from the Vaccine Connector list to make appointments at these sites.
If you are selected for an appointment, you will be notified via email, text or phone by Primary Bio, Vault Health or SpeciaLysts (Solv). Emails will arrive from firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or Solv (SpecialLysts), so be sure to keep an eye on your spam folder. Phone calls will arrive from 954-716-7771.
Anyone with questions about the community vaccination program in general, can contact the Minnesota COVID-19 Public Hotline at 1-833-431-2053. They are open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Appointments are required to get the vaccine at one of the community vaccination sites. Walk-ins will not be accepted.
Contact your health care provider or pharmacy
Minnesotans can contact their health care provider to schedule a vaccine appointment. The state is directing providers to prioritize appointments for older Minnesotans, those with underlying health conditions, and those in frontline jobs. Providers will then have the flexibility to provide available appointments to other eligible Minnesotans.
Make sure your contact information is in your MyChart account with your health care provider so they can contact you if they have available appointments.
Within the next four to six weeks, state health systems should be offering vaccines more widely, health officials say.
Sign up on pharmacy websites
Minnesotans can sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments directly on pharmacy websites. It is also a good idea to bookmark the following links:
The state is asking chain pharmacies to redirect doses from rural locations—where there are often available appointments—into the Twin Cities metro. The state does not have the power to force reallocation, but "for the most part" the pharmacies listen, Malcolm said last week.
Use the Vaccine Locator Map to find a vaccine provider near you
Minnesotans can use the state’s Vaccine Locator Map to search for vaccine providers in their area. All vaccinations are by appointment only, and each provider manages its own schedules and appointments.
Not all providers are offering appointments to everyone right now. People should contact providers to confirm vaccination location and hours and that they have vaccine doses and appointments available.
Check the Vaccine Spotter website
Visit the Vaccine Spotter website, which is a tool created to help people track down COVID-19 vaccine appointment openings at pharmacies across Minnesota. The website is updated every few minutes.
Join a ‘vaccine hunters’ Facebook group