Minnesota schools to assist in effort to inoculate children

Published 5:35 am Friday, November 5, 2021

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota health and education officials have joined in an effort with school districts and charter schools to assist in administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children over the next few days before many more doses are expected to arrive in Minnesota next week.

State officials are expecting Minnesota to receive more than 250,000 child doses next week that will go to more than 1,000 providers across the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday approved the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

The first 500 doses for children that age in Minnesota were administered on Wednesday at a community vaccination clinic at the Mall of America in Bloomington, where an additional 1,500 doses are expected to be administered Thursday.

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, alongside the commissioners of the state health and education departments, visited an elementary school in Brooklyn Center that had 175 appointments scheduled for kids to get the vaccine on Thursday. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said much of the recent increase in virus cases statewide has been happening in younger children, making the availability of the vaccine in schools an important step toward mitigating spread of the virus.

“Too often last year, we seemed to be debating whether we were going to prioritize health or learning and this is a perfect combination in bringing those two things together,” Malcolm said. “They were never in conflict, but this is our best way to support not only the health of our children and our teachers but the broader community as well.”

Minnesota health officials reported 32 more people have died from complications of COVID-19, and more than 3,700 new cases on Thursday as hospitalizations due to COVID-19 across the state climbed back above 1,000, including 232 in intensive care. Walz urged parents to get their kids vaccinated to help mitigate rising case numbers and help protect other children and the rest of their community.

“This surge has been pretty relentless,” Walz told reporters. “The numbers are not encouraging at this point in time and it’s at a point where if we do things right — vaccinations and layered mitigations — we can make sure that we’re not reporting 41 people dying and over 1,000 people in the hospital because of COVID.”

More than 3.3 million Minnesotans have been fully inoculated as of Tuesday.