January 29, 2021
Q Who’s now eligible to get their vaccines?
A While Minnesota continues to work through its highest-priority groups — like front-line health care workers; those directly caring for, and exposed to, Covid-19 patients; residents of long-term care facilities and long-term care workers — the state has also expanded the pool of people who are eligible to be vaccinated.
In this new group: People who are 65 and older, as well as teachers and child care providers.
But this is not a full-scale rollout. This expansion comes in response to new guidance the federal government announced recently that opens vaccination up to a broader group sooner than expected.
Teachers and child care providers won’t be able to make appointments unless they’re on a list compiled by their employers.
Q I’m over 65. How can I sign up to be vaccinated?
A If you are 65 or older, you’re eligible to be vaccinated at one of the state’s nine pilot sites, under the new guidance. The state said 8,000 doses were available at those sites this week.
But you’ll need to make an appointment. This process works differently than Covid-19 testing around the state: There won’t be any opportunity to walk in and be vaccinated.
Instead, there’s a two-part process: First, you’ll need to register for a chance to make an appointment. The state will then randomly select people to sign up for the next round of vaccinations. If you’re chosen, you’ll then need to sign up for a specific time slot and location.
Q I was put on the waiting list for a vaccination appointment last time. What do I need to do now?
A If you participated in last week’s vaccine sign-up process, you might have gotten a note that you were put on a waiting list, should any appointments open up.
If you were put on that waiting list, but weren’t called to be vaccinated, you won’t have to register for the state’s new lottery system.
This week, you’ll automatically be included in the group of people whose names will be picked to sign up for an appointment.
Q Are there any other ways for people 65 and older to get vaccinated?
A According to the health department, in addition to the community- and employer-based vaccinations already underway, health care systems in the state are also offering a limited number of doses to patients age 65 and older.
The state opened up vaccinations to anyone age 65 and over so providers who found themselves with extra doses of vaccine can make sure they use them.
For instance: If a health care facility were to receive a shipment of vaccine, and were to distribute it to all available people in their 1a group but have some doses left over, the facility could start calling patients, to get them vaccinated with the remaining doses.
Health officials say that health care providers will be contacting patients individually and are urging people to not call their primary care doctors just yet.
Q What if I’m a teacher, school staffer or child care worker?
A Educators and child care personnel should ask their employers about how they can receive the vaccine. State officials have been giving school leaders guidance on how to prioritize distribution. Child care programs are being randomly selected to participate.
A five-day vaccination effort for teachers, school staff and child care workers is underway in St. Paul through Monday for Twin Cities area workers only.
Q I’m an in-home day care provider. How can I get the shot?
A Licensed in-home child care providers are eligible for the vaccine and will be contacted at random by the state’s Human Services Department.
Q If I fall into another group, when should I expect to be vaccinated?
A Minnesota rolled out a multiphase vaccination plan in December, when it got its first batches of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The rollout, modeled on the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, prioritizes giving the limited amount of vaccine available to the people who need it the most. That has meant starting with those who have the highest exposure to Covid-19, and those who are the most vulnerable to the disease.
The first part of the rollout is broken up into three phases.
Phase 1a is for health care workers and long-term care residents and staff. Minnesota remains in this phase of the rollout, though progress does vary in some cases by region.
Phase 1b is for people over 75 and frontline essential workers. According to a state Health Department spokesperson, details about who might be eligible for vaccination as “essential workers” in this phase are “dependent on decisions to be made by the federal government,” which are expected to come through within the next few weeks.
Phase 1c is for people 65 and older and people between 16 and 64 who have high-risk medical conditions.
The state is still in the process of following the vaccine rollout plan — and is vaccinating people in the last part of Phase 1a, including health care workers, dentists, people working as in-home nurses and staff of mental health care clinics, for example.
QWhat does this mean for people who were in line to be vaccinated next, under the phased rollout plan?
A The next group to receive the vaccine — classified as 1b — was scheduled to start getting vaccinated in February. That group includes other frontline workers who can’t work from home, such as teachers, police, firefighters and essential workers.
With this approach, state health leaders say they’re working out the details of if and how this group’s vaccination plan will change, given its recent expansions to educators and pilot sites.
Q Where can I get the vaccine?
A The state is running nine community vaccination pilot sites, plus an additional site for educators only, in cities around Minnesota where members of this expanded group can get their shots: Mountain Iron in St. Louis County, Blaine (for people 65 and over only), Brooklyn Center (for people 65 and over only), Fergus Falls, Marshall, North Mankato, Rochester, St. Cloud, St. Paul (for educators, school staff and child care workers only), and Thief River Falls.
Q Will I need to get two shots?
A Yes, at least for now.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations — both of which are being administered in Minnesota — require two doses within three to four weeks of each other. The doses for the Pfizer vaccine are scheduled 21 days apart, and 28 days apart for the Moderna vaccine. You must get both of your doses from the same maker. Public health officials are considering strategies to make sure people who get their first shot come back for their second on time.
Health officials estimate that it takes about six weeks from the time of your first dose before you achieve full immunity.
Other vaccines that are undergoing trials could do away with the two-dose requirement, including a vaccine candidate being developed by Johnson & Johnson. But it’s unclear if or when a one-dose vaccine will be approved.
Q Will I have to pay for the vaccine?
A No. The federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine as part of its national response to the coronavirus; it’s buying the vaccine from the manufacturers and distributing it to the states.
State health commissioner Jan Malcolm said that people getting the vaccine are likely to be asked for their insurance information when they arrive. That’s because the health care providers administering the vaccine are able to charge for a clinic visit, or for an administration fee for the vaccine. But individuals should not be charged.