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What You Need to Know About Getting Vaccinated

This post was updated 2/26/21 with information from Gov. Walz’s newly-released plan.

Vaccinations are underway in Minnesota. You may have been hearing about difficulties involved with getting vaccinated. Maybe you’ve experienced some confusion yourself. This should help.

It’s no secret that there have been some bumps in the road with getting vaccination programs rolled out. It’s not just a Minnesota issue — nationwide, public health professionals have had their hands full getting vaccine supplies to meet the demand.

Nonetheless, Minnesota is moving through phase 1A of the vaccination plan. This part focuses on the highest-priority and most at-risk populations of the state. The vaccination plan expects to move into the next phase around April.

Who is Eligible to be Vaccinated?

During this phase, vaccinations are reserved for groups who either a) work in high-risk environments, b) live or work in long-term care facilities, or c) meet eligibility requirements for the community vaccination program.

High-risk environments include COVID testers and vaccinators, first responders, hospital workers who work with COVID patients, and emergency medical personnel.

Who is Eligible for the Community Vaccination Program?

Just like with the community testing sites, Minnesota Department of Health has set up community vaccination sites all over the state. However, unlike the community testing sites, these are by reservation only.

For the moment, community vaccination sites are limited to a few groups. Eligible groups are 65+ seniors, Pre-K through 12 educators, and child care workers.

You can see the newly-released projected timeline for getting more people vaccinated here:

How Do I Get a Reservation?

Initially, Minnesota Department of Health was offering pre-registrations to be randomly selected to make appointments at a community vaccination site. These are similar to the community testing sites. For the time being, that is paused. According to MDH, pre-registrations will reopen in the future. However, MDH has not shared when that will happen.

Update: You can now register for the Vaccine Connector!

This is a brand-new tool that will update you on vaccine opportunities. It’s the best way to know when you become eligible and what your options are. If you are already eligible when you sign up, then you will receive opportunities for you to get vaccinated.

If you are not yet eligible when you sign up, then you will be updated when you become eligible. Then you will receive vaccination opportunity updates.

You can also use the Vaccine Locator Map to find vaccine providers in your area. Each provider manages their own appointments and vaccines, so there is no central database. This means it will take a bit of digging, as you will need to check each provider individually to see if they are taking appointments.

Minnesota Department of Health plans to expand this program as the vaccine supply increases. As time goes on, more providers will be added to the map as more receive vaccine doses.

How Do I Get Other Updates?

If you live in Hennepin county, you can check for weekly vaccination updates here. The page is updated every Friday with numbers of vaccines administered and scheduled for use. You can also register for weekly update emails on the vaccine situation.

What If I Don’t Have Insurance?

If you don’t have insurance, no problem! To get vaccinated, you only need to fit into the eligible categories.

For now, you will still need to use the vaccine finder tool. In the future, local public health departments will offer free community vaccination clinics that are open to all, regardless of insurance.

But I Heard People Are Getting Charged for the Vaccine?

Any instances of this have been errors. The vaccine is meant to be free and available to all who are eligible. However, providers can charge for administering the vaccine. This means that providers may still ask for insurance information if you have it.

So, to be clear, the vaccine is free. Providers can charge a fee for administering the vaccine.

However, if you are uninsured or can’t afford to pay an administration fee, you can still get vaccinated.

If you are mistakenly charged, or think there’s been an error, you can file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Commerce under “COVID-19 and Health Insurance.”

But Remember…

Vaccine supplies are extremely limited. Getting the vaccine can take some time and will require patience. The demand for vaccines far outweighs the supply at this time. It will likely take several months for vaccines to become more readily accessible.

In the meantime, continue to wear masks (the CDC recommends double masks now) and social distance. If you get vaccinated, continue to wear a mask and social distance after as well. Things will take time to progress, but they are progressing. We are slowly but surely beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Click here to learn more about vaccine distribution.

Learn more about MNSure and COVID-19 here.

If you have questions, you can call Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 helpline at (651) 297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504.

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