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Vaccines for all: Walz says at-risk Minnesotans should still be prioritized

All Minnesota adults will be able to get COVID vaccines starting Tuesday.

While Thursday's announcement that COVID-19 vaccines will be made available to all adults in Minnesota sparked concerns of a "gold rush" for shots, Gov. Tim Walz has said that those most at risk from the virus should still be prioritized.

All Minnesotans aged 16 and over will be eligible to get a shot beginning Tuesday, March 30, with the governor ending the state's phased-in approach in anticipation of a significant increase in vaccine supplies over the coming weeks.

But this in turn has sparked fears from vulnerable Minnesotans still awaiting a vaccine appointment that they will now have to compete with hundreds of thousands more residents for vaccine slots.

Ahead of his Friday press conference confirming the rollout update, Walz's office said that the administration has "directed providers to prioritize vaccine appointments for older Minnesotans, those with underlying health conditions, and those in frontline jobs."

"Providers will then have the flexibility to provide available appointments to other eligible Minnesotans," it adds.

The vaccine rollout so far has seen appointments in the Twin Cities particularly at a premium, despite the metro being home to three large-scale vaccination sites at the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, and the Mall of America.

This in turn has seen eligible Minnesotans traveling further afield to get their shots, with appointments at times in more abundant supply in greater Minnesota.

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As well as ensuring at-risk populations get their shots, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan has said the state will be ramping up its efforts to ensure equitable access to vaccines in communities of color and hard-to-reach communities, which will include launching a series of mobile vaccination units in the coming weeks.

Anyone wishing to get a vaccine is urged to sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, which will see them entered into the random selection process for community vaccination sites, and will give them updates on available nearby vaccine appointments.

Otherwise Minnesotans will wait to hear from their registered health provider. This week, Essentia Health announced it would be expanding its eligibility for vaccines to include non-patients as well as those who had previously been treated at Essentia facilities.

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