Contributed by TakeAction Minnesota member Dave Boe, Duluth
Recently, I had the fortune to get my second COVID-19 vaccine dose, due to the fact that I’m temporarily residing at a rehab facility. Being a youthful 56 years old, you could say I was in the right place at the right time. So far, I am one of out of about 190,000 Minnesotans who have received the second dose. Little over 617,000 have received the first dose. Also, Governor Walz has announced that 35,000 more seniors will soon have access to the COVID vaccine in more than 100 clinics across the State. Compared to the population of the State, these numbers are small, but heartening, given we’re still in the infancy of the vaccine rollout. In addition, the Biden Administration has committed itself to providing more vaccine and COVID finance relief to all states.
Despite my own vaccination, as a father, I continue to be concerned about the welfare of my children and others, who, for whatever reason, don’t have the means to get the vaccine, despite eligibility. I’m not alone; many know the pandemic isn’t just about them and their own needs, but their loved ones and friends. In that regard, the targeted testing and vaccination may be frustrating. In my discussions with State and professional healthcare leaders and administrators, I keep hearing the same refrain: “Stay cautious (follow safety guidelines), stay optimistic, stay patient, and stay informed.”
To better keep the public informed, the Administration is releasing a new vaccine locator map to connect Minnesotans to vaccination opportunities in their area. The map can be found here. Currently, the map provides much-needed information for seniors, but will be expanded soon, so more Minnesotans can use it.
As part of the ongoing effort to expand the vaccine distribution, a pilot program was launched in early January that was intended to test the concept of community vaccination clinics and identify best practices for registering patients, administering shots, and distributing vaccine around the state. These permanent sites will build on the lessons learned and expand access to the vaccine on a more sustainable basis.
“We need to jumpstart our vaccination efforts, and our vaccine pilot program taught us important lessons about how we do that,” said Governor Walz. “These new, more permanent community vaccine sites are an important part of our strategy to expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine. In Minnesota, we’re building a network of choices for people to get their vaccine. Tens of thousands of Minnesotans will get their shot this week and we will be ready to roll out even more vaccine to people who need it – as soon as the federal government provides us with more doses.”
The Governor has also released his two-year budget that aims to address the many challenges Minnesotans have faced since the pandemic arrived in the State a year ago. Specifically, it’s directed at supporting small businesses and economic recovery, education opportunities for our students, supporting our healthcare infrastructure and giving a leg up to struggling, working families. The budget has received universal support among the DFL caucus, but, not surprisingly, the State GOP leadership has pitched into it, calling it nothing more than smoke and mirrors, without providing detailed solutions themselves, other than the usual mantra of ‘No taxes, no spending, no help.”
For 12 years I worked for former U.S. Congressman James Oberstar. During that time, I assisted him in his efforts to provide efficient, just and equitable services to the residents of his district, regardless of income status, race, gender or age. I still appreciate that selfless dedication he had toward the communities he served. I’m seeing that same efficient, just and equitable dedication in the pro-active efforts of the Biden and Walz administrations, and the collaboration of community-minded businesses, healthcare agencies and non-profits. It means our communities will have a clearer picture of what lies ahead. But I also urge individual Minnesotans to be proactive as well; contact their State legislators and let them know what is expected of them to support Minnesota families, and take advantage of the resources supplied by the State and other organizations (like TakeAction Minnesota) to stay informed, patient, cautious and, of course, optimistic.