ST. PAUL — Retail pharmacies in Minnesota will this week receive doses of the vaccine for COVID-19 to administer to elderly residents.
Approximately 16,000 doses will be provided to Walmart and Thrifty White Pharmacy locations across Minnesota through a federal program, the vaccine stockpile for which the state already has contributed. Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday afternoon, Feb. 8, however, the setting aside of 8,000 additional doses this week to multiple Walgreens locations for a one-off commitment.
"We are giving Minnesotans expanded options for how they can get the vaccine," Walz said in a statement. "The vaccine supply remains extremely limited, but we are developing a strong and reliable network of different ways Minnesotans can get vaccinated. We are committed to meeting Minnesotans where they are and will continue to work relentlessly to give everyone access to the vaccine no matter where they live."
State officials have in recent weeks taken steps to expand access to the vaccine, doses of which have primarily been conserved for health care workers and long-term care facilities, to residents ages 65 and older. Local health care providers, hospitals and public health clinics last week began to receive vaccine doses for senior citizens, as well as teachers, school staff members and child care workers.
Monday's announcement represented the latest step toward mass inoculation, one of the strategies in play to quash the coronavirus pandemic. Doses rolling out to Walmart and Thrifty White come through a federal pandemic initiative called the Pharmacy Partnership Program.
A total of 40 Walgreens locations also will receive the additional 8,000 doses this week in what the governor's office called a "one-time reallocation."
State-run clinics in Blaine, Brooklyn Center, Fergus Falls, Marshall, Mountain Iron, North Mankato, St. Cloud and Thief River Falls will reopen Thursday, Feb. 11, to administer second-round doses to elderly Minnesotans, school faculty and staff members and child care workers with previously scheduled appointments. Two more permanent state-run clinics opened in Minneapolis last week and in Duluth on Monday.
The governor's office announced Monday its intent to open a third clinic this week in Rochester similar to those in Minneapolis and Duluth. Residents who previously registered for vaccine appointments at state-run clinics but did not receive them remain on a waiting list, and will be notified by state health officials if they are selected to make a new appointment, the governor's office said.
It was unclear Monday how appointments for the new Rochester location would be made. The governor's office said in a news release that it would launch a "permanent tool for Minnesotans to sign up for information about vaccination opportunities" this week, following several weeks of changes in the way appointments were made.
Pharmacies administering the vaccine this week will also begin accepting appointments online this week at mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine, although the governor's office did not say exactly when.
By the numbers
Monday's announcement came as the Minnesota Department of Health reported an additional 564 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total documented in the state to 468,682 since the pandemic began.
Three additional deaths of COVID-19 were reported Monday as well, two of which occurred outside the Twin Cities metro area. An individual between 45 and 49 years of age died in Chisago County and another individual between the ages of 60 and 64 died in Wright County.
A total of 6,302 people have died from COVID-19, according to state health department data.
So far, 727,475 doses of the vaccine for COVID-19 have been administered in the state. Health officials reported Monday that 158,763 people in Minnesota have received two doses of the vaccine, which are required in order for it to be most effective.
A total of 556,482 people have received at least one dose.
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- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
- COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.