Minnesota reaches President Biden’s vaccine goal

Minnesota is the second state in the Midwest to reach the goal and leads all states in the Midwest for percentage of the total population fully vaccinated.

Minnesota topped President Biden’s goal of getting at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot in 70 percent of Americans aged 18 and older by July 4, 2021.

While the U.S. as a whole narrowly missed the goal, reaching 67 percent, Minnesota exceeded it last Thursday, July 1.

Minnesota is the second state in the Midwest to reach the goal and leads all states in the Midwest for percentage of the total population fully vaccinated.

“This is a remarkable achievement, and a credit to every Minnesotan who has rolled up their sleeves to get their vaccine and protect themselves and their communities,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said.

Earlier this year, Wilkin County was struggling to explain its low vaccination rates. Public health was convinced the numbers were higher than what was reported because of the county’s proximity to the North Dakota border, said Ashley Wiertzema of Wilkin County Public Health. In May, numbers from North Dakota were uploaded to Minnesota’s database overnight, causing a near 20 percent increase in vaccination rates for Wilkin County.

Wiertzema said they expect to still be missing data from those who were vaccinated by the Veterans Affairs since those numbers are reported directly to the CDC, not state health departments. Individuals whom this affects are urged to call public health at (218) 643-7122.

The updated data reflects 88.1 percent of those aged 65 and older have received at least one dose, and 55 percent of those aged 16 and older have received at least one shot, as of Monday, July 5. They are now focused on reaching the younger population in the county now that schools are out of session, Wiertzema said.

“We’re doing really well with the 65 and over population,” Wiertzema said. “We’re definitely getting the high risk (vaccinated) and doing well with that.”

Public health announced July 1 they will be holding vaccine clinics from 10:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. every Thursday. Walk-ins are allowed, but individuals interested in receiving the Pfizer of Moderna vaccine should first call public health at (218) 643-7122.

The news comes amid a wave of Delta variant cases in the U.S. The variant, which was first identified in virus-stricken India, is more transmissible and more virulent, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Up to 23 percent of people that have contracted the variant have been hospitalized, the Minnesota Department of Health reported.

“There is also concern some variants may be associated with more severe disease and a higher death rate compared to other variants. More research is needed to confirm these findings and what it will mean for vaccination efforts,” the CDC reported.

New data from the CDC shows the Delta variant as the most prominent variant in the U.S., making up half of all COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, July 7. However, the Alpha variant — which originated in the United Kingdom — is the most dominant variant in Minnesota.

Currently, there is limited data surrounding the efficacy of vaccines against strains like the Delta variant, but studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants, according to the CDC.

Minnesota had 231 newly reported cases as of Wednesday, with one probable case in Wilkin County. There were no new deaths reported.

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