ST PAUL, Minn. — Hotter than a Garth Brooks concert were those appointment slots last week at the state's nine COVID-19 vaccine sites.
Gov. Tim Walz used the word “enormous” to describe the demand that overwhelmed the state website and phone lines.
Walz said state officials expected the surge. Still, he said, “that’s no excuse for putting people through a bad experience.”
So, with more vaccine arriving, the state has come up with a new approach: a vaccine lottery.
Starting at 5 a.m. Tuesday, through 5 a.m. Wednesday, people 65 and older can register online or by phone.
Lottery winners will be notified later Wednesday by text, email, or phone.
Click here for information on how to register for the lottery online or by phone.
No need to set an alarm clock. State officials say you can register any time during the 24-hour period and have the same chance of being selected.
Unlike last week, “You can just wait and do it whenever is convenient for you,” Anne O’Connor, deputy commissioner, Minnesota Dept. of Commerce, said.
Those selected will be given an appointment time at one of nine vaccination sites they will designate when they register for the lottery.
Nearly 12,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be distributed at the vaccination sites in Brooklyn Center, Blaine, St. Cloud, Rochester, North Mankato, Marshall, Mountain Iron, Thief River Falls and Ferus Falls.
“Both Blaine and Brooklyn Center will be 65-plus,” O’Connor said. “The other seven sites are split equally between the educators and childcare workers, and 65-plus.”
The state also announced a pop-up vaccination site at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, dedicated to K-12 teachers and childcare workers.
Over five days – this Thursday through Monday – the state hopes to administer 15,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
Walz stressed it’s only the beginning.
“If you're 40 years old and healthy you can expect to get your vaccine sometime in late spring or summer probably at a pharmacy or your clinic. But until that time, to move as rapidly as possible, we're trying to do, and set up, these popup sites,” Walz said.