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Video: Minnesotans 16 and older get first dose of COVID-19 vaccine with eligibility expansion

Mar 31, 2021 05:29AM ● By Editor

Watch the WDIO-TV Report here

Photo: WDIO-TV

By Alejandra Palacios of WDIO-TV - March 30, 2021 

Tuesday marked a remarkable advancement in the fight against COVID-19 with everybody above the age of 16 in Minnesota eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Some were even able to get their shot right away Tuesday morning.

"I feel like I've become quite a hermit now. It's kind of weird being around people and it has been really hard because all I do is stay home. I don't have a job and I'm trying to be as careful as I can because I'm living with my mom and it has been hard enough trying to stay sane," said Jesse Hatten of Duluth. She is 20-years-old and got her first dose of the vaccine Tuesday at St. Luke's.

"It's just kind of hard to hang out with people and you just kind of miss your friends everyday," said Jordan Mast of Virginia. The 18-year-old said he felt relieved to get the vaccine. His parents helped him book the appointment. 

It has been a challenging year for everyone since the COVID-19 pandemic started but now, an overwhelming feeling of relief and joy is felt as more Minnesotans became eligible for the vaccine.

"Everybody seems so excited to actually come in and get their vaccine. It's such a good, rewarding place here to work and to be with everybody as everybody is just so excited," said Kelly Zapp, the clinic lead of St. Luke's COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic.

"That excitement rubs off on our staff and you can feel it and hear it in our staff just as they're talking about it and a lot of the stories that the individual patients share with them as they come in for their vaccine," said Dr. Richard Vetter, the chief medical officer for Essentia Health West.

St. Luke's and Essentia Health were part of many efforts across the state that vaccinated people in the new eligibility group.

"It's just helping the community that much more and getting those individuals in even faster than they would have been in," said Zapp.

"As that vaccine availability continues to ramp up and grow we're just excited to be able to provide the resources to get that vaccine into the patients that need it," said Vetter.

Hospitals say they are ramping up efforts to get more vaccine into more arms.

"We have individuals that are making phone calls, we have portal appointments that are open and we also have individuals that are taking phone calls in as well to really just help fill up our schedule," said Zapp.

"We're working closely with the health departments when we know about what our allocations are and then we open up schedules that accommodate the number of vaccines that we're expected to get. There's the three vaccines now and all of them have been slowly increasing their availability," said Vetter.

Many have been waiting for this moment for a long time and say they finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

"I feel like I'm finally going to be able to feel like a person again and actually be happy and live my life and not be in fear. I would love to travel I would love to see my friends and just live a life where I can have a job now and feel confident coming home," said Hatten.

"I feel like this is definitely a major step. It's kind of a relief to get the vaccine because it just kind of expands what you can do. It'd be nice to go back to sporting events in-person," said Mast.

Many say they feel a huge weight lifted off their shoulders and say these vaccine opportunities expanding gives them hope for better days ahead.

To schedule an appointment with St. Luke's go to the website or call 218-249-4200 or email [email protected].

To schedule an appointment with Essentia Health, patients and non-patients can schedule appointments through MyChart, the online patient portal by going on the website or call 833-494-0836.

To see the orignal report and read related stories, follow this link to the WDIO-TV website.

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