ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota health officials are announcing changes to the state's COVID-19 community vaccination pilot program, to better handle the volume of appointments that caused significant problems during the week one rollout.
The biggest change involves Minnesotans ages 65 and up, who will now have a 24-hour window to pre-register for vaccination appointments beginning at 5 a.m. Tuesday. Those who pre-register have a random chance of getting selected to be vaccinated, eliminating the "first come, first served" system that caused the program website to crash, and phone systems to malfunction last Tuesday. Organizers hope the new method for assigning appointments will keep people from flooding the system all at once.
The state website will be open for pre-registration from 5 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26 until 5 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27. Those who are unable to register online can call 833-431-2053 to sign up. The call center will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26.
Those who were placed on a vaccination waiting list for week one will be automatically pre-registered to be randomly selected for an appointment during week two. According to Walz, only 8,000 vaccine doses are available to adults age 65 and older in Minnesota at the pilot sites this week.
None of the clinics will vaccinate walk-ups.
Also Monday, the Governor's Office announced a mass vaccination event for metro area educators, school staff and child care providers at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul. The state is allocating 15,000 Moderna vaccine doses to be administered Thursday, Jan. 28 through Monday, Feb. 1 for this event. The state is asking educators and child care workers to work with their employers to make appointments for this event.
"This is about having the infrastructure in place to be ready when the federal government finally begins to send us more vaccine," Governor Walz said. "Every shot in the arm is another step toward crushing COVID and ending this pandemic. And we're going to get the vaccine we do have into arms quickly in Minnesota – whether that’s a few thousand doses or many more."
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is relocating the pilot clinic in Andover to a location in Blaine this week. Along with the location in Brooklyn Center, the Blaine clinic will only serve adults 65 and over. The other clinics statewide are located in Fergus Falls, Mountain Iron, Thief River Falls, St. Cloud, North Mankato, Rochester, Marshall and the new pop-up clinic in St. Paul at Roy Wilkins Auditorium.
The pop-up clinic will serve only educators, school staff, and child care providers from the Twin Cities metro.
Gov. Walz also announced actions to help make COVID-19 vaccines more available statewide.
According to a press release from Gov. Walz's office, the new plans include a 72-hour goal for providers to administer 90% of their vaccine doses, and the remaining doses within one week. If a vaccine provider can't meet these goals, new vaccine allocations could be administered to that specific provider.