‘Your turn is now’: Physicians urge vaccine holdouts to sign up to get shots as clinics struggle to fill appointments

[anvplayer video=”5025890″ station=”998122″]

The Minnesota Department of Health says the number of people getting their COVID-19 vaccines has gone down dramatically in recent weeks. At the same time, they’re noticing an increase in new cases.

Some physicians at Mayo Clinic are worried about what’s to come if more people don’t get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We will continue to see variants, we will continue to see hospitalizations and deaths and interruptions in the way we would like to all live our lives until we have control over this virus, which will only happen through large, widespread vaccinations,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, director of Mayo Clinic’s vaccine research group.

State switching up strategy to get doses to unvaccinated Minnesotans

Dr. Perry Sweeten, southwest Minnesota director of pharmacy for the Mayo Clinic Health System, says it’s unclear what caused such a dramatic decrease in vaccine appointments.

“It was really a lot of early adopters. They were coming in, the appointments were filling up. I mean, we would fill up weeks’ worth of appointments in an eight-hour block. But the last two weeks, something strange. It’s significantly, from offering 1,200 vaccines a week to hardly being able to fill up appointments,” Sweeten said.

A part of the hesitancy isn’t understandable to Poland, who says there’s no reason to believe there are any long-term effects beyond what’s already been observed.

“It’s something that I often say to people that are hesitant. I say, ‘I wonder, why do you think something like 98-99% of physicians took it immediately? Do you know something they don’t know?’” Poland said.

Read KSTP’s latest coronavirus coverage

"And I think for everybody that is waiting right now and hasn’t heard, your turn is now. The door is open, come on in. We’re happy to serve,” Sweeten said.

There are immediate appointments available in Hennepin County for those who are interested in getting their COVID-19 vaccine. Some places are also allowing walk-ins now:

• Earle Brown Heritage Center: 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Wednesdays through June 30 and 12:30-6:45 p.m. Thursdays through June 24
• Robbinsdale Middle Schools: 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Saturdays through June 26

For more information, visit the county’s website.