State switching up strategy to get doses to unvaccinated Minnesotans

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There are rising concerns that the speed at which Minnesotans are getting vaccinated is slowing down.

State health officials say people are no longer traveling hours across the state to get vaccinated, and the new strategy for getting shots in arms involves getting vaccines to communities that are most plagued by the virus.

That means targeting marginalized populations that have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19 infections and deaths, said Darwin Trujillo, health equity analyst with the Minnesota Department of Health. Those groups include ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, migrant workers and people in correctional facilities.

In the past week, daily vaccinations have started to drop.

From April 21-23, Minnesota averaged nearly 69,000 doses administered each day. But over the next three days, from April 24-26, the state averaged just 23,000 shots a day, according to MDH data.

"I think it’s a little bit early to speak to the fact that the shift is due to hesitancy," MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said. "We’re at a place now where people aren’t coming to us to get the vaccine, we have to bring it to them."

MDH officials also say around 3.4% of Minnesotans are not returning to get their second shot, which is needed for full protection provided by the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

The state is aiming to get at least 70% of Minnesotans fully vaccinated by the end of May. So far 56% of all people in the eligible age group of 16 years and older have received at least one dose.