Updated: July 29, 2021 06:10 PM
Created: July 29, 2021 05:20 PM
This fall, Minnesota health officials hope students and staff don't just go back to school. They also hope they go "Vax to School."
"The time is now to really increase our rates of vaccination to make sure that we can protect in-person learning and protect our students and our staff who are in these facilities," Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.
In order to get full immunization by the time kids go to school, people need to get their shots soon.
For example, the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses with three weeks between. Full vaccination status is achieved two weeks after the second dose. So if someone got the Pfizer shot on Thursday, July 29, they would not be fully immunized until Sept. 2.
Pfizer is the only option authorizied for 12- to 17-year-olds in the U.S.
"We've got a ways to go," Malcolm said. "Currently, we've got about a third of our adolescents 12-15 who are vaccinated. And less than half of those 16 and 17. So in this adolescent group, we've got a good start. But it's not nearly adequate to give the kind of protection through vaccination that we know is possible and that will make such a difference."
Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Heather Mueller encouraged people to consider not only themselves but also those around them.
"We know that our students who are aged 12 and under do not have the opportunity yet to do this. This means that those students continue to be at risk," Mueller said. "And we want to find every way possible to ensure not only their safety but the safety, health, and wellness of their educators, of their families, and of their communities."
Malcolm said MDH's best estimates show the more transmissible delta variant is the dominant strain in Minnesota.
"To the extent that we thought this was all behind us, I think we absolutely are clear now that this is still a very present danger and that there's some important new characteristics to this delta variant that make us need to redouble our efforts to protect vulnerable populations," she said.
Free vaccine clinics remain open around the state. For more COVID-19 resources, go to wdio.com/covid19.
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