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Walz announces 5-day vaccination plan for metro teachers, child care workers

Walz will speak to Minnesotans at 2 p.m. Monday.

11 a.m. UPDATE

OK, Walz has now released plans for the 5-day vaccination opportunity for teachers, school staff and child care workers, but it is specifically for Twin Cities metro area educators and child care employees. Here's what we know so far, with Walz expected to discuss the plans further during a 2 p.m. press conference Monday. 

The state is allocating 15,000 of its available vaccine doses to the event, which will be held at the Xcel Energy Center from Thursday, Jan. 28 to Monday, Feb. 1.

Education and child care employees will be contacted through their employer about appointment opportunities for the event, in addition to opportunity for appointments at any of the nine other pilot clinics.

Child care programs will be randomly selected while education staff in greater Minnesota will have opportunities, albeit limited, for vaccine at the greater Minnesota pilot programs.

The pilot clinics operating this week are in: Blaine (moved from Andover), Brooklyn Center, Fergus Falls, Mountain Iron, Thief River Falls, St. Cloud, North Mankato, Rochester, Marshall and St. Paul (at the Royal Wilkins.

The clinics in Blaine and Brooklyn Center will only serve people aged 65 and older this week. 

Original story

Governor Tim Walz is set to make a major education announcement at 2 p.m. Monday, and it's now being reported that the governor is planning to unveil blueprints for a vaccination plan that would see thousands of Minnesota teachers and child care providers receive the vaccine.

MPR News' Brian Bakst says the 5-day vaccination event will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul and will focus on providing Minnesota teachers and child care workers with the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Asked about the report by MPR News' Kerri Miller, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Monday that "the governor is going to speak to that very thing this afternoon." 

It is unclear when the 5-day event will take place, nor is it clear how many doses will be available. 

As of 2018, Education Minnesota reported that the state was home to more than 57,000 full-time teachers, including more than 30,000 who are PreK-5 teachers. That's key because Minnesota districts are gradually bringing elementary students back to schools for in-person instruction. 

The Centers for Disease Control has so far allocated 871,650 doses of vaccine to Minnesota. Of those, 522,975 doses have been shipped to Minnesota healthcare providers and a further 153,300 have been provided to the long-term care vaccination program. 

The rush to vaccinate as many eligible Minnesotans as possible comes under the threat of new, more contagious variants, specifically the B.1.1.7. variant first discovered in the United Kingdom, causing further issues. 

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Dr. Michael Osterholm, epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, expected the B.1.1.7. variant to dramatically increase the number of cases in Minnesota by March. The state health department has not predicted such dire circumstances, though it has expressed the importance of maintaining mitigation strategies to hold viral spread at bay as long as possible. 

"The variants are a really important reminder that we cannot let down our guard or we run the risk of having that light at the end of the tunnel not being what we want it to be," said MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann, during an appearance on MPR Monday.  

Ehresmann said that if the B.1.1.7. variant takes a foothold in Minnesota as it has in California, it would result in "rapid increases in transmission" and "many more cases." 

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