New state tool launched to connect all Minnesotans to COVID-19 vaccines

Gov. Tim Walz. Photo: KSTP. Gov. Tim Walz.

KSTP
Updated: February 18, 2021 08:02 PM
Created: February 18, 2021 06:33 AM

The Minnesota Department of Health announced on Thursday the launch of the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, a tool that helps all Minnesotans find out when, where, and how to get their COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Vaccine Connector is the next step of the state's vaccination strategy to meet Minnesotans where they are and connect them to vaccine opportunities, no matter where they live or their personal circumstances.

"We still have a frustratingly limited vaccine supply from the federal government, but every Minnesotan should know their chance to get a vaccine will come. Today, we are connecting them directly to that process," said Walz. "We need to make it as easy as possible for every Minnesotan to get the vaccine when it's their turn – no matter where they live and no matter their personal circumstances. The options we're providing will help make that happen."

"The Vaccine Connector will play a vital role moving forward to help us connect each and every Minnesotan to a vaccine once they're eligible," said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. "We are working hard to make sure folks in every community in Minnesota feel connected to our vaccine network and know how to get a vaccine safely and confidently once supply increases."

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says people 65 and older who've already signed up for the vaccine waiting list don't need to use the new Vaccine Connector, but she urges everyone else 18 or older to register.

Minnesotans who have not yet been vaccinated are encouraged to sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, regardless of their current vaccine eligibility status. There will be no cost and no restricted time period for signing up.

"This tool is available to all of us right now to help us better identify when, where and how we will be able to get out COVID 19 vaccine," Malcolm says.

People who want to sign up for the Vaccine Connector, click here.  

Minnesotans unable to sign up online can call 833-431-2053 for assistance signing up over the phone. Translation is available by phone in all languages. Minnesotans can call the translation hotline at 833-431-2053 for assistance signing up over the phone. 

Minnesotans will provide basic information to sign up for the Vaccine Connector such as contact information, demographic data, medical history, and employment to determine their eligibility based on state guidelines. 

"The State of Minnesota is committed to the equitable distribution of safe and effective vaccines for protection against COVID-19 and this form has included questions about gender identity, sexual orientation, race, cultural identification, and disabilities to help us track and measure equity and fairness throughout the vaccine distribution process," according to a news release. "These questions do have the option to select “prefer not to answer” or “none of the above,” and selecting these answers will not prevent you from signing up for the Vaccine Connector."

The commissioner of Minnesota's IT Services agency says the information you share will only be used by agencies working to distribute vaccines.

"The security of collecting personal information from Minnesotans is incredibly important to us and certainly not something new to government as a whole," MNIT Commissioner Tarek Tomes said during an online news briefing.

When a Minnesotan becomes eligible to receive a vaccine under state guidelines, the Vaccine Connector will alert them of their eligibility, connect them to resources to schedule an appointment, and notify them if there are vaccination opportunities in their area. Minnesotans will still make appointments directly through a registered vaccinator, but the connector is an easy way for Minnesotans to stay apprised of their eligibility and find opportunities to get a shot.

Minnesota is currently vaccinating health care workers, long-term care residents, pre-kindergarten through grade 12 educators, child care workers and people age 65 and over. All Minnesotans who have not been vaccinated should sign up for the Vaccine Connector. 

Adults 65+ who already registered through either the COVID-19 Vaccine Pilot Program or the COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program do not need to re-submit their information. When adults 65+ sign up for the Vaccine Connector, they will immediately be entered into the random selection process for the state's Community Vaccination Program sites operating in Minneapolis, Duluth, and Rochester.  

"Demand for vaccine still far exceeds supply, and Minnesotans should remain patient as more vaccine arrives in the weeks and months ahead. Every Minnesotan will have an opportunity to get vaccinated, it will just take time and the Vaccine Connector is another tool Minnesotans can use to be prepared," stated the release.

For more information on the Vaccine Connector, click here


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