State kicks off ‘Vax to School’ student vaccination campaign

On Thursday, state officials announced Minnesota’s "Vax to School" campaign that encourages students and families to get fully vaccinated by the beginning of the school year.

Minnesotans 12 and older are authorized to receive the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, which takes five weeks to go from first dose to fully vaccinated. As of Thursday, only one-third of Minnesotans 12-15 years old and less than half of Minnesotans ages 16 and 17 are fully vaccinated against the virus.

"Our kids deserve to be kids again," Walz said. "In-person learning is critical to a child’s well-being and academic success. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep our students healthy, keep our educators and families safe, and prevent the virus from spreading in our communities."

Over the next month, the campaign will highlight voices from educators, pediatricians and parents on the safety, efficiency and critical need to get students 12 years of age and older vaccinated against this deadly virus.

"Our students deserve a worry-free and fun year back in the classroom, and we are doing everything we can to make that a reality," said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. "We know our kids do best when they’re in the classroom learning from their teachers, playing with their friends, and engaging in sports and activities — and getting them vaccinated is the best way to keep them safe while they do so."

Unvaccinated kids remain vulnerable to life-threatening symptoms and long-term health consequences from virus exposure.

"COVID-19 has taken so much from us over the past year and a half, but we have the power to help our children and our schools get back in the classroom with vaccination," said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm. "The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for those 12 and older. We know this disease can be severe even in younger people. Even if it is mild, we don’t want to see our kids miss any more school or social activities due to a disease that can be prevented."

According to MDH data, 99.9% of people who have been fully vaccinated have not contracted COVID-19. Minnesotans can click here to filter by vaccine type and find a provider offering the Pfizer vaccine in their area, call their pediatrician to make an appointment, walk into a local pharmacy or visit the Community Vaccination Program site at the Mall of America.

Many school districts are also having mask discussions.

Rochester Public Schools just announced students 12 and older, and staff, are encouraged to wear masks this fall, but are not required to do so.

However, students ages 2 to 12, an age category not yet authorized to get the COVID-19 vaccine, must wear them.

The state’s largest district., Anoka-Hennepin, just announced "masks are recommended but not required" indoors for both students and staff come fall.

And both Minneapolis and St. Paul are reviewing new guidance and will announce plans in the next couple of weeks.

"We’re trying our best to ensure that whatever plan it is, it doesn’t take on punitive measures, so if we ever decide to move forward with masks, we want to make sure that our students are still able to be in school and get an education," said Cedric Baker, chief of staff for St. Paul Public Schools.

To kick off the Vax to School campaign on Thursday, MDH released a video of educators from across Minnesota calling on students and families to get vaccinated to ensure a safe and worry-free school year. To watch the video, click here.