Minnesota makes progress in closing gap on COVID-19 vaccine disparities

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Minnesota is showing some early signs of success in its effort to address COVID-19 vaccine inequities by targeting the most vulnerable communities for shots.

The number of people receiving a first COVID-19 vaccine dose has increased 6.3% since state health officials announced in early May that they would allocate 40% of first doses to geographic areas that are home to racial minorities, the unemployed, people with disabilities, non-English speakers and others facing barriers to health care.

That’s slightly better than in areas that are the least vulnerable, where first doses increased 5.8%, according to a Star Tribune analysis of state data.

“We are just starting to see the impacts … and that is encouraging,” said Dr. Nathan Chomilo, vaccine equity director for the Minnesota Department of Health.

“It is going to take much more than just getting the shots intentionally allocated. It is going to take that ongoing engagement and communication and finding ways to decrease barriers,” Chomilo said.

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