Minnesotans raise concerns over vaccination rates as Delta variant spreads

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises again in Minnesota, some residents are voicing frustrations about the state’s vaccination rate.

More than 68% of Minnesotans ages 16 and older have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, but when you break it down by county, there are big disparities.

Residents like Linda Johannes say they’re worried about the vaccination rates in Sherburne County. 

"I’m frustrated because the people who are vaccinated may be going backwards because of the people who are not vaccinated. We may have to go back to wearing masks and who knows what else," she said. 

Her frustrations come at a time when state health leaders say those who are not vaccinated are why COVID-19 numbers are creeping back up. More than 400 COVID-19 cases alone were reported over the weekend.  

State data shows that a little more than 51% of county residents over the age of 18 are vaccinated. That’s nearly a 20% difference compared to Hennepin and Ramsey counties where at least 70% of residents 18 and older are vaccinated.  

Meanwhile, state leaders say a majority of the unvaccinated people are why COVID-19 numbers are going up.  

"It must be emphasized that like the CDC has said, this is being driven by unvaccinated people catching the Delta variant, a variant that is looking to be much more easily spread than earlier versions of the virus," said Kris Ehresmann with MDH. 

The Delta variant is why resident Dan Robinson says he’s leaning towards getting the COVID-19 vaccine.   

"With this new variant, it’s really time to think," he said. 

Sherburne County health officials say they are concerned about the vaccination rates but remain optimistic.   

"I don’t know if we’ll get by September, but what I can say is that our other vaccination rates have been right up there with the rest of the state standards, so I think with time we will reach the majority of our population, but it may take a while," said Nicole Ruhoff, Sherburne County Public Health Manager. 

County health leaders say they’re going to continue to educate people and offer more vaccine clinics to help with accessibility.