With more than 700,000 Minnesotans receiving COVID-19 vaccine booster shots in the past month, the state is preparing to open up eligibility to all adults aged 18 and up.
Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the state is hopeful that federal authorities will expand booster eligibility (they are expected to later this week), but even if the feds don't Minnesota will move ahead on its own to combat what has been a serious situation in Minnesota, which is currently the "fastest growing COVID hotspot in the country."
"We are preparing to move ahead independently this week to expand booster eligibility if there is no action at the federal level," said Malcolm.
"Given the alarming surge in COVID cases that Minnesota is facing ... this booster protection is particularly important and timely," Malcolm said. "It remains a very high priority for all Minnesotans who haven't gotten vaccinated at all yet to get their primary vaccination series as soon as possible and to take advantage of boosters."
Meanwhile, with community transmission at high levels in 86 of 87 counties (Lake of the Woods County is the exception), Malcolm says everyone in Minnesota should be masking up in indoor public settings. The state also encourages universal masking in all K-12 schools.
COVID booster shots have been approved at the federal level for all American adults, but until now have been reserved for those of a certain age, those with underlying conditions, or key workers who are most at risk of contracting or suffering complications from COVID-19.
Currently, Minnesotans eligible for a booster shot include:
- People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings
- People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions
- People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions
- People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their occupational or institutional setting.
- All over 18s who received a Johnson & Johnson shot, who can get a Pfizer/Moderna booster 2 months after their original vaccine.
Booster shots began being injected into Minnesota arms mid-October, beginning with the Pfizer vaccine followed by the Moderna shot. A Johnson & Johnson booster isn't yet available, but the booster shot does not have to match the original vaccine an individual received.
Third doses of COVID vaccines are also available to individuals who are immunocompromised. These are not considered booster shots, as they are taken at least 28 days after a patient has received their second shot.
Those who qualify for this additional shot — which is not considered a booster — should speak to their healthcare provider.
As of Nov. 14, a total of 715,287 Minnesotans have received their booster or third shot.