Today, Senator Karin Housley (R-Stillwater), Chair of the Senate’s Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care, held a hearing for public testimony regarding the State’s current vaccination plan for seniors 65 and older.
“The testimony we heard today was a small sampling of the people that have contacted my office to voice their concerns,” said Senator Housley. “I’ve heard from hundreds of people across the state expressing concerns with the Governor’s plans. What I’m repeatedly hearing is the worry that other groups that are not at-risk are being placed above seniors, and it’s just not right. I wanted to provide them a platform in my committee to share their stories.”
The State Vaccine Advisory group met earlier this week to discuss Governor Walz’s current vaccination plan. Currently, seniors will be phased into vaccination efforts over three total phases. The percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered in Minnesota is at 36%, while neighboring states North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa are at 74%, 58% and 47% respectively. According to the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), COVID-19 mortality rates are also highest among older adults. Compared with persons aged 35-54 years, those aged 65-74 years have an 8 times higher risk, and those aged 75 years and older have over a thirty times higher risk for COVID-19 deaths.
A number of Minnesota residents testified citing concerns over the lack of communication to the public, nonexistent transparency regarding decisions being made about vaccination phases, the withholding of doses, and seniors not receiving a priority timeline.
“Why is it those at the highest risk of losing their lives are not being prioritized for receiving vaccines? We’re ten months into this pandemic and we don’t have an answer. I’m pleased that the federal government is recommending states to prioritize that seniors over 65 have the option to receive the vaccination as soon as possible. Our most vulnerable Minnesotans have had a long year of waiting, and they are being forced to wait longer while their lives are at risk. I continue to urge Governor Walz to change the State’s plan for vaccine distribution to reflect the needs of our seniors.”