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COVID Vaccine Pilot (MN): Gov. Announces Mass Vaccination Event For Educators, Registration Changes For Those 65+

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Monday announced changes to the state's community vaccination efforts, including a different registration process for those 65 years of age and older. Also, a mass vaccination event will be held in St. Paul for educators and child care providers.

Last week, the first test of the vaccine pilot program resulted in long wait times, the website crashing and many calls not going through. MDH said it is just a pilot program and they are working out kinks each week.

Still, 13,300 Minnesotans were able to get vaccinated at nine community clinics around the state.

MORE: Information On Pre-Registering For Vaccine

For the second week of the pilot program, there will be a new registration process for those 65 years of age and older. Those Minnesotans will now have a 24-hour window of time beginning at 5 a.m. Tuesday until 5 a.m. Wednesday to pre-register for a randomized opportunity to get an appointment.

This means those who want to pre-register don't need to do it right away, which will hopefully reduce the strain on the website. It will not be a first-come, first-served process.

"The updated process accounts for anticipated high demand for appointments online and at the call center and allows for more equitable and orderly access to appointments by eliminating the first come, first served system," the governor's office said.

State officials strongly encourage Minnesotans to register online here, but they can call 833-431-2053 to sign up. The call center is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Those who are randomly selected for an appointment will be notified on Wednesday by text, email or phone with instructions on finalizing the appointment.

Sheila Bethke, 61, has run an in-home daycare for 35 years, but has temporarily closed her business due to her compromised immune system. She's waiting to hear if she's been chosen for a vaccine appointment.

"Without that vaccine I can't return to work, so as soon as that is available I will be on that immediately," Bethke said.

Walz Sets Goals To Ensure Doses Are Given Immediately

Also on Monday, Walz said he took action to jump-start the vaccine rollout to ensure doses are given to Minnesotans as quickly as possible.

Part of that includes a new 72-hour goal for vaccine providers to administer 90% of their vaccine doses within three days of receiving them, and all doses within a week. Meanwhile, the state continues to experience a vaccine shortage.

"The federal government simply has to step up with more vaccine. Minnesotans are ready for this pandemic to end but it'll take far too long at the current rate we're getting vaccine," said Governor Walz. "But what gets measured gets done. Our 72-hour and one-week goals will hold all vaccinators accountable to make sure the doses providers do receive get into Minnesotans' arms as quickly as possible. Every shot in the arm is another step toward crushing COVID and ending this pandemic. And we're going to get this done."

Mass Vaccination Event For Educators, Child Care Workers

Walz also announced a mass vaccination event for metro area educators, school staff and child care providers in St. Paul this week. It will be at Roy Wilkins Auditorium. According to the Minnesota Wild, Walz's previous announcement that it would be at the Xcel Energy Center, which is next door to Roy Wilkins, was incorrect.

Fifteen-thousand Moderna vaccine doses have been reserved and will be administered Thursday through Monday.

It will not be open for walk ups.

"School districts, charter schools, tribal schools and nonpublic school organizations will work directly with employees to secure an appointment through the state-sponsored pilot clinics. Child care programs are randomly selected and will be notified if vaccines are available. Education and child care workers who have questions should work with their employer," the governor's office said.

Teachers unions have been vocal about wanting educators to have readily-available access to the vaccine before considering going back to in person learning. Eighth-grade teacher Tara Raisanen said that piece of mind is invaluable.

"I do think for me personally that anxiety would go away, because you know what, I'm doing everything I can to protect my students, and I'm doing everything I can to protect my children at home," Raisanen said.

More Information On Pilot Clinics

The pilot clinic in Andover will be relocating to Blaine this week. The pilot clinics that will be operating this week are located in Blaine, Brooklyn Center, Fergus Falls, Mountain Iron, Thief River Falls, Sartell, North Mankato, Rochester, Marshall and St. Paul.

The Blaine and Brooklyn Center pilot clinics will be serving only adults 65 years of age and older this week. The St. Paul clinic is only serving educators and child care providers from the Twin Cities area.

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