The next group of Minnesotans in line for the COVID-19 vaccine will be those with specific high-risk conditions and essential workers who work in food processing and plants, Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday ahead of a 12:15 p.m. news conference on the topic.
The governor says the state will expand eligibility for the COVID vaccine once 70% of those 65 and older have received one dose of the vaccine, which he expects to be by the end of March. More than 43% of Minnesota's seniors have been vaccinated as of Thursday.
Once that happens, the state will expand eligibility based on underlying health conditions and people's risk of being exposed at work (see timeline above and here), including:
- Sickle cell disease
- Down syndrome
- Those in active cancer treatment or immunocompromised from organ transplant
- Oxygen-dependent chronic lung and heart conditions (COPD and CHF)
- Essential workers in food processing plants
Gov. Walz expects this group of Minnesotans to be eligible for the vaccine in April.
In late spring, Walz says people age 45-65 with one of the listed underlying medical conditions (see below and here) and people 18-44 with two of the listed underlying medical conditions (see below and here) will be able to get the vaccine.
The listed underlying medical conditions are:
Chronic kidney disease;
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease);
Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies;
Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant;
Obesity - body mass index (BMI) greater or equal to 30 kg/m2 but less than 40 kg/m2;
Severe Obesity - BMI greater or equal to 40 kg/m2;
Sickle cell disease;
Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Walz says some essential frontline workers will also be eligible at that time, including those in industries like restaurants, agricultural, other educators not previously eligible, grocery store workers, manufacturing, public transit and postal service workers, among others (see details here).
After those people are vaccinated, the state will begin vaccinating any adult with a listed underlying medical condition, adults 50 and older regardless of health condition and all other essential workers.
That being said, Walz says the general public can expect to get their vaccine by this summer.
“One year into this pandemic, I want to thank Minnesotans for their incredible work rising above and beyond the challenges presented to them and supporting their friends, family and neighbors through one of the most difficult times this state has ever seen,” Walz said. “We can see the finish line and we have the roadmap. I know we can get there together.”
Walz said the state prioritized older Minnesotans because those 65 and older have made up 90% of the COVID-related deaths in Minnesota.
"While we still have far greater demand for vaccine than supply, we are taking critical steps each and every day to provide shots to every Minnesota senior in every community — no matter their personal circumstances,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. "As we move through these phases of expanded vaccine eligibility, we will continue to immunize for impact and ensure equitable distribution and access across the state.”
Here's the state's website on when people can expect to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. To get notified when it's your turn to get the vaccine, you can sign up for the state's Vaccine Connector here.
“COVID-19 has taken a tremendous toll, but the progress we are making against it is very encouraging,” Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “Every day we are getting closer to the end of this pandemic thanks to these safe and effective vaccines and the hard work of so many Minnesotans.
"To protect and build on this progress, it is important to get vaccinated when you have the opportunity. It’s also important to continue doing our part to limit the spread of the virus by masking, social distancing, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate," Malcolm added.