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Minnesota health officials expand vaccine eligibility

MINNEAPOLIS  — The Minnesota Department of Health told hospitals, health care systems and other vaccination providers Thursday that they can now provide coronavirus shots to a broader group of the population, including Minnesotans 65 and older.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement that the move is meant to free providers to use all available doses as quickly as possible while still ensuring that the doses are targeted to those most at need for protection from COVID-19.

The federal government this week urged states to immediately start vaccinating groups that had been lower down the priority scale than before, including people age 65 and older and younger people with certain health problems.

“We are approaching the end of our earliest stages of the vaccine rollout, and we want to make sure all vaccines in the state are getting into arms as quickly as possible,” Malcolm said. “The state is making sure that providers have nothing holding them back from immediately using any and all vaccine they have available.”

But she also acknowledged that far more Minnesotans want the vaccine than the doses currently available from the federal government. The state is urging the federal government to provide more vaccine immediately.