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Gov. Tim Walz announced that anyone 16 or older will soon qualify for a shot in Minnesota, Liz Collin reports (2:21) WCCO 4 News At 5 - March 26, 2021
FRANK VASCELLARO: It's a big day for Minnesota's fight against COVID-19 as more people become eligible to get the vaccine. Today, Governor Tim Walz announced a new phase in the vaccine rollout. Anyone 16 or older will soon qualify for a shot in Minnesota. Those appointments will begin on Tuesday. WCCO's Liz Collin has what you need to know to get your spot in line.
TIM WALZ: As you can see on the opening slide, we're here to end this pandemic.
LIZ COLLIN: In his first day out of his 10 day COVID exposure quarantine, Governor Tim Walz delivered a message many Minnesotans have waited months to hear.
TIM WALZ: We built this thing, as the saying goes, skating to where the puck was going to be. And the puck is coming next week in the form of a dramatic increase in the number of vaccines that the federal government is able to deliver.
LIZ COLLIN: As vaccine supply is set to increase in April, state health leaders say now's the time for everyone to sign up.
TIM WALZ: This does not mean you're necessarily going to get this next week. It means you're in line.
LIZ COLLIN: Priority will still be given to those 65 and up, in certain professions, or people with underlying health conditions.
TIM WALZ: If no one's in that lane, our providers will move to the next lane. If no one's in that lane, they will move to the next lane.
LIZ COLLIN: In some cases, it will mean families can be vaccinated together. Health commissioner Jan Malcolm wants people to feel confident in the vaccine, pointing to a 96% case drop in Minnesota's long-term care setting since all 2000 facilities have been fully vaccinated.
JAN MALCOLM: Hope is returning to these facilities after a very frightening and stressful year of coping with COVID-19.
LAURA MCCAWLEY: I got the shot! [LAUGHING]
LIZ COLLIN: We caught Laura McCawley just back to her car after getting her first dose today. Her dad was one of the first to die from COVID last April in his nursing home, feeling relieved that some protection is now possible.
LAURA MCCAWLEY: I'm hoping people get it done, and life can get back to normal once again.
LIZ COLLIN: Governor Walz made a specific plea to younger people to be vaccinated, as variant numbers in that population are on the rise. The state also acknowledged some resistance among certain workforce populations to get the vaccine. We can expect a more visible campaign in the coming weeks with the hope it will change some minds. In St. Paul, Liz Collin, WCCO4 News.
FRANK VASCELLARO: State health leaders estimate it's going to take about a month to work through this demand for the vaccine as they try to achieve the goal of getting 80% of the state population fully vaccinated. That level would achieve herd immunity.