70% of Minnesota metro area residents have been partially vaccinated for COVID-19

No easy explanation for lower rate in Greater Minnesota, officials say.

A syringe needle is filled with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, during a vaccination clinic at Winona Park & Rec East Recreation Center in Winona, Minn. (Traci Westcott / Forum News Service)
We are part of The Trust Project.

ST. PAUL — Seventy percent of metro area residents older than 16 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Minnesota health officials said Wednesday, June 2.

That puts the Twin Cities ahead of the state as a whole in the race to provide first-round doses to teens and adults and ahead of Greater Minnesota. By comparison, officials said Wednesday, approximately 57% of outstate residents in that age range have been partially vaccinated.

With 64.7% of all residents ages 16 and up having had their first dose, according to the latest state Department of Health statistics, Minnesota is still on track to reach its statewide goal of 70% coverage for that population segment by July. Gov. Tim Walz at first tied that 70% statewide benchmark to the end of the Minnesota mask mandate, but rescinded it early when federal health authorities issued new mask guidance in May.

Across the board, the slowly growing number of vaccinations is coinciding with a decline in new COVID-19 infections, a state health department official said.

"Just remember that if you're not vaccinated, you're still at risk," Kris Ehresmann told reporters on a conference call Wednesday afternoon.


State-sponsored mobile vaccination clinics continue to bring doses straight to neighborhoods that need them.

So far, surveys don't bear out the idea of rural Minnesotans being skeptical of the vaccine, according to Health Department Vaccine Equity Director Dr. Nathan Chomilo.

"There have been national surveys of vaccine hesitancy and attitudes around vaccination for COVID-19 specifically," Chomilo said. And while they suggest Minnesotans are more accepting of the vaccine than the average American, "we did see that counties in the seven-county metro area had relatively more hesitancy."

According to Chomilo, that means efforts to make the vaccine more accessible need to be sustained.

Minnesota counties home to cities smaller than Minneapolis and St. Paul, meanwhile, have higher rates of vaccination in the outstate compared to more rural ones. Olmsted County, home of Rochester, has provided 78% of residents older than 16 with at least one dose of vaccine, or roughly 94,600 people.

In St. Louis County, where Duluth is located, first-round vaccination rates measure 64.2% for residents ages 16 and up.

In an effort to close vaccine gaps, Minnesota has started offering incentives for the newly vaccinated ranging from free state park admission to free fishing licenses. The incentives program launched only last week, however, making it too soon to assess their impact on vaccination rates.

What to read next
Experts warn that simply claiming the benefits may create paper trails for law enforcement officials in states criminalizing abortion. That will complicate life for the dozens of corporations promising to protect, or even expand, the abortion benefits for employees and their dependents.
Compared to 2019 and 2020 data, cases of chlamydia remained similar to past Northland data, while gonorrhea cases have continued to increase in the region.
In Minnesota, abortion is protected by the state’s constitution and is legal up to the point of viability, which is generally thought to begin at about 24 weeks, when the fetus can survive outside the womb. Those who work with Minnesotans who seek abortions say barriers, both legal and practical, forced some to travel to Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin even prior to the Supreme Court’s decision.
"Minding Our Elders" columnist says it's important to remember that we can't "fix" aging for our parents, but we can listen with empathy and validate their feelings.