(FOX 9) - Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday he will put Minnesotans with certain medical conditions, food processing workers and some "targeted essential workers" next in line for a COVID-19 vaccine in April.
For the first time, Walz put forward a timeline that categorizes people into one of five tiers extending into early summer. The timeline starts after 70% of seniors get at least one dose, which health officials expect will happen by the end of March.
As of Thursday, Minnesota and its health providers had vaccinated 43 percent of Minnesotans ages 65 and over. It's unclear if 70 percent of seniors will take a vaccine; while demand is strong now, significant vaccine hesitancy remains.
Minnesota's timeline may end up being much faster than Walz's estimate. It includes far smaller weekly increases in Pfizer and Moderna vaccines than what the two companies are promising, and does not include any Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses, which will arrive as soon as next week.
"We're not crafting something that's super conservative so we can step over it," Walz told reporters Thursday afternoon. "We're crafting it based on data that's there, so we don't get in the situation we were in in December, when we were overpromised."
Walz said he is confident Minnesota will get its 1.69 percent share of the 20 million doses that J&J promises to ship by the end of March, or 338,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine. The company’s COVID-19 vaccine is expected to win approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within days.
Who can get their vaccine right now?
- Health care professionals
- Long-term care residents
- People age 65 and older
- Pre-K-Grade 12 teachers and child care workers
An estimated total of 1.7 million people belong to these categories, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Who will be eligible to get their vaccine in April?
- People with specific, high-risk conditions: Sickle cell disease, Down syndrome, active cancer treatment, immunocompromised from organ transplant, oxygen-dependent chronic lung and heart conditions (COPD and CHF)
- People with rare conditions or disabilities that put them at higher risk
- Targeted essential workers: food processing plant workers
An estimated total of 72,000 people belong to these categories, according to MDH.
- People 45-64 with one or more high-risk medical conditions
- People 16-44 with two or more high-risk medical conditions
- People age 50 years and over in multigenerational housing
- Essential frontline workers: Agricultural, additional child care workers not previously eligible, correctional settings, first responders, food production, food retail, food service, judicial system workers, manufacturing, public health workers, public transit, U.S. Postal Service workers
An estimated total of 1.7 million people belong to these categories, according to MDH.
- People age 16 years and over with any underlying medical condition
- Age 50-64 (regardless of health condition)
An estimated total of 500,000 people belong to these categories, according to MDH.
After people in those groups are vaccinated, the following groups will be eligible to get the vaccine:
- All other essential workers: Transportation and logistics, finance, housing/shelter construction, IT/communications, energy, media, legal, public safety, water and wastewater
An estimated total of 350,000 people belong to this group, according to MDH.
- General public
An estimated total of 300,000 people belong to this category, according to MDH.
Minnesota online vaccine registry
Health officials are encouraging all Minnesotans to sign up for the state's new COVID-19 Vaccine Connector website, which will notifiy them when they become eligible to get their vaccine and connect them to resources for scheduling an appointment.
The website requires people to fill out a short form with basic information such as contact information, medical history and employment information, after which it will alert them when they are eligible to receive a vaccine and connect them to resources for scheduling a vaccine appointment.
Minnesotans can sign up at mn.gov/vaccineconnector. Minnesotans unable to sign up online can call 833-431-2053 for assistance signing up over the phone. Translation is available by phone in all languages by calling the translation hotline at 833-431-2053.