ST. PAUL — Older adults in Minnesota can get their COVID-19 vaccine shots at select Hy-Vee locations throughout the state beginning this week in what will be another significant expansion of vaccine access.
The governor's office announced Monday, Feb. 22, that the supermarket and pharmacy chain will be the third retail pharmacy to offer the vaccine in Minnesota on a regular basis through a federally supported program. Walmart and Thrifty White locations in the state will continue to be a part of that program.
"We’re working to mobilize every opportunity we have to get our Minnesota seniors vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible," Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. "Today we’re expanding our options for how Minnesotans can get vaccinated and while supply remains frustratingly limited, we will keep working relentlessly to build our provider network and get shots into arms of our most vulnerable populations."
Hy-Vee is being given approximately 10,000 doses to administer at 30 locations, the governor's office said, and will begin to offer appointments through the Minnesota Department of Health's online vaccine locator tool in the coming days. The three pharmacies distributing the vaccine in Minnesota are doing so under the auspices of a federal government program known as the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, for which vaccine doses are set aside from state allotments.
Minnesota previously put additional doses from its allotment toward a one-week partnership with Walgreens, also aimed at older adults.
The governor's office announced Hy-Vee's foray into the vaccine campaign as the state neared the administering of nearly 1.1 million doses of the vaccine, many of which have been conserved for health care workers and nursing home residents. Adults ages 65 and older, teachers, school employees and child care workers have also been able to access the vaccine in recent weeks at hospitals, pharmacies, doctor's offices and state-run health clinics.
So far 356,911 people in Minnesota, roughly 6.4% of the population, have received two doses of the vaccine, which the predominant versions of the vaccine being given out at the moment require in order to achieve maximum effectiveness. A total of 759,747 people, or 13.7% of the state's population, have been given at least one dose.
Nationwide, vaccine distribution was disrupted last week by the winter storm that blanketed the southern U.S., resulting in delays even in Minnesota. State Health Department Epidemiology Director Kris Ehresmann said on a press call Monday afternoon that backlogged vaccine shipments bound for Minnesota should arrive early this week, with the normal weekly order due to arrive later this week.
"We hope to be back to normal operations and scheduling in the next week or so," she said.
In what Health Department Director Jan Malcolm said were "very encouraging signs," Minnesota on Monday reported 235 active COVID-19 hospitalizations, the lowest active total since late September. Of those, 48 are intensive care unit admissions.
Only one additional hospitalization attributed to COVID-19, which is caused by the novel coronavirus, was reported on Monday, also an ICU admission. A total of 25,478 COVID-19 hospitalizations have been reported since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Another 561 COVID-19 infections were reported Monday, however, bringing the total number documented in the state since the start of the pandemic to 479,591.
One additional COVID-19 death, which occurred in Ramsey County, was also reported Monday, bringing Minnesota's pandemic death toll to 6,433.
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- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
- COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.