Minnesota on Tuesday, March 30, opened up eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone who is 16 years and older.
While Gov. Tim Walz has stressed that at-risk Minnesotans, essential workers and those in earlier eligibility groups should still be prioritized for vaccine appointments, he says opening up eligibility to those 16 and older gives providers the flexibility to administer the shot to others when possible.
Though the state's vaccination rollout timeline has been pushed up by months, state health officials are reminding Minnesotans to be patient — just because you're eligible for the vaccine doesn't mean there are enough doses currently available for every Minnesotan who is 16 and older.
This makes finding an appointment confusing and often times frustrating. So here are a few things to know when looking for available appointments:
Where you can get the vaccine
There are various businesses and organizations that are currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine in Minnesota, including state-run vaccination clinics, pharmacies and healthcare providers. We'll break down how to get appointments at these below.
Local public health departments, Veterans Affairs and tribal governments are also offering vaccines to people. Check your local entity's website to see if you're eligible and if appointments are available.
There are 3 vaccines
There are three COVID vaccines approved in the United States:
- The two-dose Pfizer vaccine
- The two-dose Moderna vaccine
- The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Related [March 29]: Real-life CDC study finds Pfizer, Moderna COVID vaccines are 90% effective
Related [March 30): On first day of 'vaccines for all,' Walz, Pawlenty to get J&J shot
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) encourages Minnesotans to get whatever shot is available to them when it is available because they're all effective in preventing serious illness. However, if you're under 18, only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for people who are 16 and 17 years old, so when you're booking an appointment make sure it's for Pfizer.
Vaccine Connector, state-run vaccination clinics
MDH has been encouraging Minnesotans who haven't yet gotten the vaccine to sign up for the state's Vaccine Connector (sign up online here or call 833-431-2053). It involves you filling out a brief questionnaire, and then you'll be contacted (by email, text or phone call) when an appointment is available at one of the state-run vaccine clinics.
There are seven permanent clinics in Bloomington, Duluth, Mankato, Minneapolis, Rochester, St. Cloud and St. Paul, as well as temporary pop-up vaccination events that are held in communities around the state.
If you're contacted to make an appointment, you'll be contacted by Primary Bio, Vault Health or SpeciaLysts (Solv) by email, text or phone. Emails will arrive from firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or Solv (SpecialLysts). Be sure to keep an eye on your spam folder. Phone calls will arrive from 954-716-7771.
These vaccination clinics are by appointment only. They do not accept walkups.
For more information about Minnesota's Vaccine Connector and how to get a shot at one of the state's vaccination clinics, click here.
MDH has also launched a vaccine locator tool — a searchable map — to help you find places near you that are administering the vaccine.
Each of the providers on the map gives you details on how to make an appointment when they're available. It's worth noting, though, that not all providers on the map have opened up eligibility to those 16 and older.
Health care providers
If you're a patient at one of the large healthcare providers or hospitals in the state, this is likely where you'll end up getting your vaccine, MDH has sad.
In many cases, your provider will contact you when they have a vaccine available for you, and you'll be able to sign up for a date, time and location to get the shot.
If it's been a while since you've gotten care, you should make sure you have an online account with the provider and that it's updated with your current information.
Here are what some of the large healthcare providers are doing to provide the vaccine:
- Allina Health: The healthcare provider is focusing on vaccinating current patients, who will be contacted to make an appointment.
- CentraCare: Patients and non-patients can schedule an appointment online.
- Essentia Health: The northern Minnesota healthcare provider recently expanded eligibility to non-patients, all you have to do is sign up for a MyChart account and schedule an appointment.
- HealthPartners: You have to be a current or former HealthPartners patient with an online account, and you'll be notified when you can make an appointment.
- Hennepin Healthcare: The healthcare system is contacting eligible patients to make an appointment for the vaccine.
- Mayo Clinic: The healthcare system is prioritizing Mayo Clinic patients, with appointments being made via patients' Patient Online Services account.
- M Health Fairview: You don't have to be a patient to schedule an appointment, so long as you meet their criteria.
- Sanford Health: Current patients will be contacted through My Sandford Chart, so patients are encouraged to create one.
- St. Luke's: The healthcare system is contacting patients to make appointments. People who aren't patients can make an appointment by calling 218-249-4200 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (more details here).
Pharmacies around the state are getting vaccine shipments from the federal government. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website to help people find a vaccine at a pharmacy near them.
Among the pharmacies that are offering vaccines in Minnesota: Costco, Cub, CVS, Goodrich, Hy-Vee, Sam's Club, Thrifty White, Walgreens and Walmart.
In most cases, you have to make an appointment online. Some, including Walgreens, let you sign up to receive email updates when appointments become available near you.
There's a website called Vaccine Spotter to help people track down COVID-19 vaccine appointments at pharmacies across the state, and it's updated frequently.
An increase in supply is coming
Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be higher than supply for at least the next few weeks. But, if you're struggling to secure an appointment there is some good news — the state's supply of the vaccine is expected to continue to increase in the coming weeks, which should make appointments easier to come by.
Just this week, MDH is expected to get more than 300,00 more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (182,000 doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine; 107,600 doses of the two-dose Moderna vaccine; and 31,800 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine), MPR News reports.