COVID-19 Vaccine Phases and Planning - Minnesota Dept. of Health
On Feb. 16, 2021, we updated our Close Contacts and Tracing quarantine guidance to align with recent CDC public health recommendations for vaccinated persons. Other materials will be updated as quickly as possible.

COVID-19 Vaccine Phases and Planning

COVID-19 vaccine planning is currently happening at federal, state, and local levels of government. We will continue to update this information as we learn more.

Phases of COVID-19 vaccination

Phase 1a

This phase includes health care personnel (paid and unpaid) and long-term care residents.

Minnesota Guidance for Allocating and Prioritizing COVID-19 Vaccine – Phase 1a (PDF)
Updated 3/2/21

First Priority

  • Hospitals: People working in dedicated COVID-19 units, ICU, emergency departments, designated COVID-19 urgent care.
  • Long-term care facilities (skilled nursing facilities & nursing homes): All people working in these facilities.
  • Emergency medical services: People providing direct patient care as part of the EMS System.
  • First responder personnel: People who generally provide direct patient care to the general public in response to medical and/or trauma incidents in the performance of their job duties.
  • COVID testers: People providing testing at large community testing sites.
  • COVID community vaccinators: Public health vaccinators and those administering COVID-19 vaccine in phase 1a.

Where they will get vaccine: Vaccination clinics set up through their employer.

How they will hear about vaccine: Health care personnel will be notified by their employer when vaccine is available to them.

Second Priority

  • Hospitals: People providing direct patient services or handling infectious materials and not included in the first priority group, including affiliated clinics and health care personnel contractors.
  • Long-term care facilities (assisted living facilities/housing with services with an arranged Home Care Provider): All people working in these facilities.
  • Urgent care: People providing direct patient services or handling infectious materials not included in the first priority group.
  • Dialysis centers: People providing direct patient services or handling infectious materials.

Where they will get vaccine: Vaccination clinics set up through their employer.

How they will hear about vaccine: Health care personnel will be notified by their employer when vaccine is available to them.

Third Priority

  • All remaining health care personnel not included in the first and second priority groups. This does not include health care personnel that are teleworkers, and onsite personnel who can maintain safe social distance (6 feet apart) while working.
  • This includes, but is not limited to: Health care personnel that work in hospitals, ambulatory and outpatient settings, home health settings, emergency shelters, long-term care facility, dental offices, pharmacies, public health clinics, mental/behavioral health settings, correctional settings, and group homes medical transportation providers, mortuary personnel and coroner personnel.
  • Health care workers are those both who are paid and unpaid. This includes personal care assistants (PCAs) and direct support professionals (DSPs). Eligible unpaid caregivers include primary caregivers (see more information below) who work in similar capacities as PCAs, DSPs and nurses for persons with complex medical needs and tactile interpreters for people who are deaf-blind. (See full document for detail.)

Where they will get vaccine: Vaccination clinics set up through their employer or local health department.

How they will hear about vaccine: Health care personnel will be notified by their employer when vaccine is available to them.

Health care personnel who are self-employed, and health care personnel who have not heard from their employer about vaccination are encouraged to sign up for the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector. MDH will share the information with your local health department and/or community vaccinators. They will reach out to you when there are vaccines and appointments available.

As stated in the full guidance document and overview above, those included in the phase 1a, third priority are both paid and unpaid health care workers. This staff includes Personal Care Assistants (PCAs) and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), including those working on waivers and those working in home and community-based services. Eligible unpaid caregivers include primary caregivers who work in similar capacities as PCAs, DSPs and nurses for people with complex medical needs and tactile interpreters for people who are deaf-blind. These are all presumed to be included in the definition of “health care professionals,” given the broad array of personal supports they provide in close proximity with many different people who have complex needs.

For example, a parent of a child with asthma alone would not be eligible. However, if a child has severe autism and is nonverbal, has asthma and requires direct support with, toileting, feeding, using their nebulizer etc., and the caregiver is providing direct care not normally provided for a child of a similar age, the primary caregiver(s) would be considered a health care worker. A spouse providing direct care for their partner with Multiple Sclerosis is another example of an eligible health care worker.

How do I show that I am a primary caregiver for a person with complex medical needs?

There may be many ways to show you are providing direct care. For example, if you are providing care through Community Directed Community Support (CDCS), you could provide paperwork showing inclusion in that plan. The fiscal agent for administering the plan could provide a letter for people employed or caregiving under this system. You could provide a letter from a physician or other party (see Sample Letter for Caregivers (Word)). These are some examples but are not intended to be an exhaustive list.

How do I sign up for a vaccine if I am a caregiver?

You should sign up with the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector. People who are unable to sign up online or who require translation assistance should call 833-431-2053 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to sign up over the phone.

The connector does not currently have a specific option for primary caregivers, so for now, you should follow a couple of steps:

  • Under demographic details, indicate that you are a first responder who providers direct patient care as part of the EMS system or as a healthcare worker.
  • For the question, “If you are employed, can you work from home?” select “No.”
  • When it asks about what industry you work in, you can select “Other/None” and write in the box “primary caregiver.”

The information collected here will then be shared with relevant local vaccinators (e.g., local public health, state vaccination clinics) who may reach out to you for an appointment. You could also try to connect directly with your local health department to see if they are scheduling vaccinations you can sign up for. Other places to look for vaccination times include your own health care provider or the provider of the person you are responsible for providing direct care.

How do I find a vaccination site?

After you sign up on the Vaccine Connector, you can also look on your own for vaccine locations in your area at Find Vaccine Locations.

How do I get assistance getting a COVID-19 vaccine or test?

MDH is supporting COVID Community Coordinators (CCCs). They are community-based organizations that connect Minnesota's diverse communities to COVID-19 testing, vaccination, and other resources. For example, maybe you do not have access to a computer, you have a disability that requires some additional support, or you'd like a little more help finding resources you need. You can contact the COVID Community Coordinators or call the Disability Hub 1-866-333-2466.

Nine organizations serve as COVID Community Coordinators for people with disabilities. These organizations include centers for independent living and nonprofits that provide services for the blind/low vision communities. For a current list and contact information, see Regional Testing and Vaccination Support for People with Disabilities. The Disability Hub also continues to be a valuable resource for information and COVID related needs. For more information call 1-866-333-2466 or visit Disability Hub MN.

Phases 1b, 1c, and 2

Phases 1b and 1c include populations at high risk for severe disease and essential workers. Phase 2 includes general public.

Minnesota Guidance for Allocating and Prioritizing COVID-19 Vaccine – Phases 1b, 1c, 2 (PDF)
3/2/21

You can see an overview on Who's Getting Vaccinated.


Because there are very few doses of vaccine available initially, COVID-19 vaccination will take a phased approach. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) determined the priority groups that will be getting vaccine first. The Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Advisory Group reviews the ACIP guidelines and makes detailed recommendations for how to apply the guidelines in Minnesota.

The goal for the first, limited doses of COVID-19 vaccine is to immunize for impact – meaning we are offering vaccine to those at highest risk of getting COVID-19 and those most at risk of severe disease and complications if they get COVID-19.

Moving from one phase to another will depend on vaccine supply and how many people are getting vaccinated, so it is hard to estimate when one phase will end and another will begin.

We are glad so many people want to get vaccinated and know that waiting for vaccine is extremely hard right now. We cannot get access to it as fast as we want, so we have to take this phased approach and try to focus initial doses where we'll have the greatest impact on health. Vaccine is constantly being made and distributed. Everyone's opportunity to get vaccinated will come; it will just take some time.

For more information, see Who's Getting Vaccinated.

Planning for COVID-19 vaccine

Planning for COVID-19 vaccine began many months ago and continues to change and grow as we prepare for more vaccine doses to become available. Local public health, health care coalitions, and MDH are working together on vaccination plans for current and future population groups. We are committed to making sure everyone who can get the vaccine will be informed how, when, and where they can get their vaccine as soon as vaccination sites are up and running and vaccine is available.

Read the executive summary of the Minnesota Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for more information.

References

Updated Friday, 05-Mar-2021 10:04:18 CST