Minnesota announces changes to statewide COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Minnesota officials announced several changes to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the state Monday designed to get more people the vaccine. 

Minnesota will have 35,000 vaccine doses available for people age 65 and older this week, including 6,000 doses at two new large-scale, permanent community vaccination sites in Minneapolis and Duluth, replacing the 10 that operated last week, according to a news release from Gov. Tim Walz’s office. A third location will open next week in southern Minnesota. 

The rest of the doses will go to more than 100 clinics, hospitals and health care providers statewide. 

The goal of Minnesota's new vaccine rollout plan is to shift away from the community vaccination sites and get more people vaccinated in their communities.

The new community vaccination sites in Minneapolis, Duluth and southern Minnesota will serve people ages 65 and older. The Minneapolis site will also serve teachers and child care workers. 

The 10 sites that were open the past two weeks will be open for second doses only, for people who got first doses there.

Minnesota health officials said they would distribute 98,000 first doses this week, the most yet. That includes 11,000 extra doses from the federal government that Minnesota has been promised for at least the next three weeks. 

It also includes 18,600 doses that the feds overallocated to chain pharmacies that are vaccinating in long-term care facilities. That stockpile will be a one-time boon to the state's vaccination efforts.

Health officials said more than 50,000 doses would go to Phase 1A health care workers that remain to be vaccinated. Another 35,000 would go to seniors, and 11,000 will go to teachers and child care workers.

How can I find a vaccine provider near me? 

Minnesota launched a new vaccine locator map on Monday to help people find local vaccination opportunities near where they live. Minnesotans can use the map to find vaccine providers in their area and contact those providers directly to schedule an appointment to get the vaccine. 

The locator map currently only provides information for seniors, but it will expand over time as more Minnesotans become eligible for the vaccine, according to the news release. The map can be found here

What happens to the COVID-19 vaccine lottery for Minnesota seniors? 

The 220,000 seniors who were put on the waiting list during last week’s lottery will remain on the list to be randomly selected to get the vaccine at one of the state’s new permanent community vaccination sites in Minneapolis or Duluth. They are also eligible to receive a dose through their local health care provider.

No new appointments will be scheduled at the 10 original community vaccination clinics in Blaine, Brooklyn Center, Fergus Falls, Marshall, Mountain Iron, North Mankato, Rochester, St. Cloud, St. Paul and Thief River Falls. 

Minnesotans who received their first dose at one of the state’s ten community vaccination pilot clinics last week or the week before will receive their second doses at the same location as previously scheduled. No further action is required on their part. 

What about teachers and child care workers? 

Teachers and child care workers will either be contacted directly or by their employers, who are coordinating with local health departments, to schedule a vaccine appointment. 

Teachers and child care workers can get their shots at one of the following locations: 

  • State vaccination site in Minneapolis 
  • 35 local public health offices statewide 
  • Pharmacies in Brainerd, St. Cloud and Rochester

Pharmacist raises concerns about 'Find A Vaccine' website

The rollout continues to be plagued by a lack of vaccines and communication issues.

Deb Keaveny, who owns Keaveny Pharmacy in Winsted, is listed on the state's new "Find A Vaccine" website. But she said no one from the state gave her a heads up that the website was launching Monday, and as of Monday afternoon still didn't know how many vaccines she would get this week.

"My store this morning has been receiving hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of phone calls. When are you getting the vaccine? When can we book an appointment?" Keaveny told reporters at a news conference called by Senate Republicans. "I feel tough for the people who are calling us because don’t have the answers because we didn’t know that was going to happen."

Through a spokesman, Minnesota health officials disputed that they blindsided anyone. Each provider listed on the website got two notices from the state about the launch, said Devin Henry, a health department spokesman.