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Expanding the vaccine eligibility list

It may be a small step, dependent wholly on the limited availability of COVID-19 vaccines, but the state of Minnesota is expanding the list of people eligible to receive the vaccine.

A pilot program, being held in nine sites throughout the state, will begin taking appointments this week to vaccinate teachers, child care workers and people over 65, as vaccine supplies will allow.

Marshall has been targeted as one of the nine pilot sites in Minnesota for this COVID-19 vaccination program.

How many people can actually be vaccinated depends on supplies, which are much lower than had been originally anticipated at this point.

The state had been counting an increase in the doses supplied by the federal government, but apparently the federal government promised to release a stockpile of vaccine that had already been depleted. The state, along with other states, is going to have to wait for an increase in doses. The federal government is counting on the manufacturing and distribution process to be more efficient in the future.

The state is making good progress on getting the necessary two doses to all health care workers and long-term care residents and staff. The new pilot project aims to protect those involved in child care and k-12 education, two areas crucial to reopening school programs and getting people back to work, and citizens over 65 who are more vulnerable to the virus.

This pilot program is a good idea, but we’d like to see a system set up where people could go online, answer a few questions to help determine their eligibility, and sign up to get an email when their turn is approaching. It’s being done in some other states, and it would help answer a lot of questions.

Vaccination has been the key to preventing and controlling many other diseases, from smallpox and polio, which have been eliminated, in the case of small pox, or nearly eliminated in the case of polio, to measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox. The sooner people can be vaccinated, the sooner COVID-19 can take its place among those diseases.

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