The state's "Vax to School" program appears to be working, with Minnesota health officials noting weekly student vaccinations have more than doubled since the program's debut.
The State of Minnesota launched a "Vax to School" campaign in late July with the intention of getting as many students over the age of 12 vaccinated for COVID-19 before school restarts in early September.
Minnesotans aged 12 and over are eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but only a minority of them had been vaccinated prior to the "Vax to School" campaign.
The weekly number of first doses administered to 12- to 15-year-old and 16- and 17-year-old students is up 107% and 112%, respectively, since the campaign began two weeks ago, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said Friday.
Since July 28, MDH says 15,000 12- to 15-year-olds and nearly 5,000 16- and 17-year-olds have gotten their first dose of the vaccine.
Those who get their first jab on or before Aug. 15 are eligible for a $100 Visa gift card from the state. All you have to do is submit your reward request to MDH online here by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 15.
There are more than 140 school-based vaccination events being held at K-12 and charter schools across the state. You can walk in or make an appointment to get the jab via the state's Vaccine Connector here or use the state's vaccine locator map to find a provider near you. You can also call MDH's COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-431-2053.
Related [Aug. 12]: 70% of Minnesotans aged 16 and up have had at least 1 vaccine dose
The news of increasing vaccinations comes as concerns ramp up about the spread of the delta COVID-19 variant. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, during a Friday conference call, said recent data shows young people can contract COVID-19, and that it's important they take precautions.
During the fall surge, kids 0-9 made up 5% of all COVID cases in the state, and children 10-19 accounted for 12%. Those figures have jumped to 9.6% and 13%, respectively, among cases over the past two months.
She also noted the largest increase in hospitalizations of late has been among adolescents, saying that while the risk remains low, "the likelihood of children be hospitalized is greater in recent weeks.”