Vaccine access is expanding in Minnesota, but some groups could still be left behind

On Friday, Gov. Tim Walz announced that all Minnesotans 16 and older will be COVID-19 vaccine-eligible starting Tuesday.

That massive expansion of access is not necessarily good news for everyone, though. There are concerns this could make it more difficult for some people to get their shot.

Primary care physician Dr. Hannah Lichtsinn is concerned that even though all Minnesotans 16 and older will be eligible, the access won’t be equal.

"To access the vaccine through major health care systems, through the large private pharmacy chains, people need to be able to use the internet, they need to be able to make multiple accounts," Lichtsinn said. "That requires both quality internet access, the understanding of how to use it, speaking the English language. That leaves out a lot of people."

Walz: All Minnesotans 16 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccine starting Tuesday

Lichtsinn says in some communities, minorities are dying at higher rates from COVID-19 — anywhere from two to six times more than their white counterparts, so she feels creating priority groups would still make sense.

"That means making sure that we get vaccines to those communities who have been disproportionately affected by this virus in those same high rates," Lichtsinn said. "So Black communities should be getting the vaccine twice as frequently or twice as often compared to white communities."

And while these are relevant concerns, Walz says the state is looking at ways to expand access.

"Now we are continuing to think about creative ways to make sure that equity is a part of this and making sure that we take it, in some cases, right to people’s homes to let them get the vaccine if they have barriers to getting that," the governor said.

That can also mean bringing the COVID-19 vaccine to workplaces.

“We continue and will continue to work with our business sector to make it as easy as possible to bring in these vaccination sites to work with them to make sure people can do this as easy as going to work and getting that shot and being able to continue on,” Walz said.