Officials say COVID vaccinations for about 183-thousand Minnesotans are expected in the state by year’s end, with health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities getting first priority. But Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm notes there are half-a-million people in those groups:

“We know that we’re not gonna be able to give as much vaccine as is needed, even for those highest-priority populations, in the first couple of weeks.”

Officials say top vaccine priority will go to health care workers and others who have direct contact with COVID patients. Nursing home residents will also get top priority because they’re the most vulnerable to COVID.

As more vaccine becomes available, other health care personnel will also be vaccinated. After that, it will be those designated as essential workers… then those over age 65 and people with underlying health conditions.

Around December 21st is when state officials expect the first COVID vaccinations to occur in Minnesota — for health care workers in high-risk settings and nursing home residents. But it will likely be several months before a significant portion of Minnesota’s population is vaccinated — and Governor Tim Walz says Minnesotans can’t let down their guard until at least then:

“We are at the worst part of the worst part of this pandemic. Just because the vaccine is coming right now, it is not a panacea to get us through this.”

It’s expected the governor will extend closures of bars, restaurants, health clubs, and youth sports beyond December 18th. He’s urging Minnesotans to redouble their COVID safety efforts: wear masks, social-distance, and limit gatherings to immediate family only.