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New COVID-19 community vaccination site set for Oakdale

The new, permanent large-scale site will open for appointments later this week at Inwood Oaks event center.

OAKDALE, Minn. — The state of Minnesota is opening another large-scale COVID-19 community vaccination site as more state residents become eligible to be immunized.

Governor Tim Walz made the announcement Thursday that the state's eighth permanent vaccination site at Inwood Oaks event center in Oakdale will begin giving immunizations this week. The Oakdale site joins similar clinics in Minneapolis, Duluth, Rochester, Bloomington, Saint Paul, St. Cloud, and Mankato. 

“Across the state, we continue to build an expansive network to bring vaccines directly to Minnesotans in their communities. Our Community Vaccine Program remains a key component of this life-saving network,” said Governor Walz. “The Community Vaccination sites are getting shots into arms safely and efficiently, and this new location will help us reach more Minnesotans 16 years and up.”

As of March 30, all Minnesotans 16 years of age and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, and state health officials are anticipating an influx of doses from the federal government and other sources. 

Those who have not been vaccinated are encouraged to sign up for the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, which notifies users about vaccine opportunities near them. Minnesotans signed up for the Vaccine Connector that are currently eligible for the vaccine could be randomly selected for an appointment at a community site, including the new one in Oakdale. The Connector also contacts them directly if they are eligible to make an appointment.

RELATED: Sign up for Minnesota Vaccine Connector, be notified when you're eligible

On Tuesday, the first day vaccine eligibility was opened to more Minnesotans, Walz and former Governor Tim Pawlenty visited a temporary community clinic at the Minnesota Vikings facility in Eagan to get their vaccinations side by side. 

Pawlenty, a Republican, said getting the vaccine isn't just "Minnesota Nice" -- it's "Minnesota smart." He said as a sign of bipartisanship, he and Walz will get their vaccinations side-by-side in opposite arms. Pawlenty will get his shot in his right arm, while Walz will get it on his left arm. 

"He wanted to hold hands, but I told him that goes too far," Pawlenty joked. 

Asked about partisan hesitancy around getting the vaccine, Pawlenty agreed that Republicans may have more distrust about it. He emphasized, however, that numerous reputable organizations have verified the vaccines' safety and effectiveness.