Skip to Content

REACHING EVERYONE: Minnesota health leaders aim to vaccinate more residents

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00
Man receives COVID vaccine

(KTTC) -- While the vaccine is now easier to access, the rate of those eager to get vaccinated is slowing.

With 22 new deaths announced Wednesday as well as a younger people being hospitalized for COVID-19, state health leaders have their work cut out to convince many to roll up their sleeves.

"Percent of cases that have become hospitalized has gone up from prior waves to this one in all age groups over the age of 20," said Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

The virus still continues to impact those in certain zip codes more than others.

"That shows you that we have work to get protection to all parts of our state. Otherwise, we will continue to see disproportionate impact," said Dr. Nathan Chomilo, MDH director of vaccine equity.

The pandemic has disproportionately effected minority populations. In order to better address this, the state is ranking areas based on what they call a social vulnerability index. This will help determine which areas need more doses.

"By setting an equity allocation goal of 40 percent of doses focused on high [social vulnerability index] zip codes and equity efforts, we aim to eliminate the current gap in first dose immunization rates between Minnesotans in high [social vulnerability index] zip codes and our state's overall immunization rate," Chomilo said.

This is in an attempt to combat what is being called vaccine hesitancy. State leaders call this a myth. They say in many cases, it's a matter of access.

"We're at a place now where people aren't coming to us to get the vaccine. We have to bring it to them," said MDH director of infectious disease Kris Ehresmann.

State health leaders acknowledge that some people refuse to get the vaccine, but believe others just need access or questions answered.

"Different groups have different questions about specifics of the vaccine for them," Malcolm said.

This resistance creates a gap in vaccination rates and a hurdle for state health leaders to overcome. It begins with education, especially concerning the previously paused Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"The data showed that the benefits of this vaccine outweighed the very small risk," Ehresmann said about the J&J vaccine.

While the single shot vaccine is considered safe and effective, more than 3 percent of Minnesotans are not getting the second shots of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna shots.

"That's still concerning to us because we know that for the Moderna and Pfizer products, you have to have both doses to have complete protection," Ehresmann said.

While the Twin Cities metro area showed a growth in the number of those getting vaccinated in April, the numbers were less encouraging in the western half of the state. Both the northwest and southwest regions of Minnesota experienced less than a 20 percent increase in those getting vaccinated this month.

Alex Tejada

Skip to content