MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Health officials say Minnesota is ready to move forward in expanding COVID-19 booster vaccine shot eligibility as the state is currently experiencing a surge in cases.
Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters in a Tuesday news conference that Minnesota is prepared to move forward on expanding booster eligibility, even if the federal government isn’t quite ready to do so.
Other states, such as Colorado, have expanded booster eligibility to all adults over 18 years of age. In Minnesota, the only people eligible for Pfizer and Moderna boosters are seniors, those in long-term care, and adults with certain underlying conditions and occupational risks, such as frontline medical workers and teachers.
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Minnesota is currently No. 2 in the nation for average new cases per 100,000 people. The only other state with a higher case rate is Michigan. Additionally, the average positivity rate in Minnesota is now above 10%, the threshold that health officials consider “high risk.” Not since last December has the positivity rate been so high. Meanwhile, hospitalization rates are at record highs for the year and ICU beds are near capacity.
Experts say the surge in cases is likely due to the highly-contagious nature of the Delta variant, waning vaccine efficacy, and Minnesotans not keeping up with mitigation strategies, such as masking.
Doctors that WCCO-TV spoke with last week said that the protection offered by the vaccines looks as though it wears off after four to six months. As to why Minnesota has yet to expand booster eligibility, they said that there’s concern over potential side effects.
Still, the doctors said they expected the state to lower restrictions on booster shots in the near future.
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