Governor Tim Walz has challenged Minnesota's adults to help the state reach an 80% vaccination target as the state opens up shots to everyone over the age of 16 from Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference Friday afternoon, the governor said his administration will be stepping up its campaign to encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated now that shots will be available to all adults.
With more contagious variants of the virus having an impact on Minnesota's COVID rate, Walz said that Minnesota isn't at the finish line yet, but fast and comprehensive uptake of the vaccine can ensure it reaches it sooner than previously thought possible.
He acknowledged that there is some reluctance among portions of the population about getting vaccinated so early into the pandemic, but also noted that some of this has come from younger people who don't feel comfortable getting vaccinated while older and more vulnerable are still waiting.
That said, 50% of Minnesota Republicans recently responded to a KSTP survey saying they would not be getting the vaccine.
Walz also addressed questions about those who were on the cusp of getting a vaccine under the state's previous schedule but will now face competing with millions more Minnesotans who suddenly qualify.
The governor said the state is directing providers to still prioritize those with underlying health conditions and older Minnesotans, but said opening up eligibility to all adults with more vaccines due to arrive in the state will give providers more flexibility to use up any leftover doses.
Minnesota has been receiving in the region go 175,000 vaccine doses a week, but is expected to see a surge in the next few weeks, with as many as 424,000 arriving the week of Apr. 5.
The governor also made a specific plea to younger Minnesotan adults as well as the parents of school-age children to get their vaccine, with a significant amount of the recent rise in cases being attributed to younger generations and those engaging in school sports or extracurricular activities.
What's more, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the hope is that with trials of vaccines in children currently ongoing, Minnesota could begin vaccinating its middle and high school students starting this fall.