MINNEAPOLIS — As of Tuesday night, more than 180,000 Minnesotans had registered for the state's vaccination lottery, as vaccinations for those 65+ ramp up over a five-day period starting this Thursday.
"Those who are randomly selected from the pre-registration list will be proactively contacted starting on Wednesday to register for available vaccine appointments," said Tarek Tomes, Commissioner of Minnesota Information Technology, or MNIT.
12,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and 15,000 of the Moderna vaccine are set to be distributed at nine sites across the state, and for those who've already pre-registered it's now a waiting a game to see if they've made the cut.
"None of the registration slots have been filled yet and that random process will run at approximately 7 a.m. tomorrow," said Tomes.
One of the top questions many people have been asking is if you even stand a chance in Wednesday's lottery, and what happens if you don't get chosen?
"We're not deleting the waiting list. Once you're signed up on the waiting list, you're always going to be eligible for that random process," said Tomes.
KARE11 took some of the most asked questions sent in from viewers to leaders on the state's COVID-19 Response Team:
Why can’t people select more than one site?
The idea is to promote fairness, simplicity, and safety. Each person who pre-registers is guaranteed the opportunity to be randomly selected at only one location, which they choose themselves. It also aims to encourage folks to choose the location closest to them, thus decreasing the chances of someone 65+ driving all the way across the state. To answer some viewer questions, the user, not the state, selects the site that is best for them.
Why can’t married couples schedule their shots at the same time?
The idea is that each individual is allowed the same opportunity to be randomly selected as everyone else. It’s important to note that this pilot program is a learning experience, not a final product. This is reasonable feedback the state is hearing and taking into consideration as it looks to the future.
What about people who can’t travel to sites?
Our sites themselves are accessible to people with disabilities. People with accessibility needs for travel are encouraged to coordinate with family, friends or neighbors for transportation, while adhering to social distancing, mask-wearing and other COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Why can’t hospitals administer the vaccine?
Hospitals and healthcare providers can and are administering the vaccine. Hospitals and our pharmacy partners are vaccinating Phase 1a populations, including healthcare workers and long-term care residents. Earlier this month, MDH gave hospitals permission to also provide excess doses to Minnesotans age 65 and over.
The state is also strategically partnering with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to administer vaccines to their existing 65+ patients. FQHCs are contacting their established 65+ patients to assist them in making appointments to be vaccinated as they receive vaccine doses each week.
How does the process work?
Minnesotans over 65 can pre-register for an opportunity to be randomly selected for a vaccine appointment until 5 a.m., Jan. 27 at MN.gov/findmyvaccine. The random selection process will take place in the morning of Jan. 27 and folks who are randomly selected for an appointment will be notified by SMS, email or phone.
What about teachers and childcare workers?
The pilot program continues to provide vaccinations to teachers and childcare workers throughout Minnesota this week, including a 15,000-dose vaccination event at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul. Appointments are required, and employers will be in touch with employees with more information.
Pre-registration is open until 5 a.m. Wednesday, January 27. Those selected will be notified later that day by phone, email, or text on how to set up their vaccine appointment.
Minnesota health officials say they know this setup isn't ideal for everyone, but they're using this pilot program as a learning experience.
"Throughout the vaccine registration pilot, Minnesota will continually evaluate where we can make reasonable changes to create an even smoother experience for the future," said Tomes.