FILE - Cardinal Blase Cupich, Virus Outbreak Illinois Vaccine

Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, left, receives the first of the two Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020.

(The Center Square) – Only 42% of Minnesota seniors, the group most susceptible to death by COVID-19, have received the first of two COVID-19 vaccination shots.

AARP Minnesota, which represents 640,000 people, sent Gov. Tim Walz a letter detailing problems with the vaccine rollout, saying it left seniors “frustrated and confused.”

Minnesota has given the first COVID-19 vaccination to 364,331 people ages 65 and older, while 134,139 have received both shots.

Walz said officials are debating whether to shift priority groups once 60% of seniors are partly vaccinated or wait until that percentage increases.

More than 1,700 AARP members completed an online questionnaire between Feb. 12 and Feb. 15, in which the following results were reported:

  • 76% of respondents had tried to make an appointment by either trying themselves or being contacted by a healthcare provider
  • 35% had received their first dose; and
  • 4% had received their second dose.

Many seniors left expressed their frustration in the vaccine rollout.

Some seniors said they have difficulty driving to new places or don’t have access to transportation.

Minnesotans age 65 and older comprise 89% of deaths statewide in which COVID-19 was a sole or contributing factor.

Sen. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, criticized Walz’s administration for planning to expand vaccination groups before those 65+ have been vaccinated.

“Less than 15% of our seniors aged 65+ have received both doses of the vaccine, despite claims that these seniors are being prioritized,” Housley said in a statement. “89% of Minnesota’s COVID-related deaths are seniors, yet we can’t even get the vaccines out to them. There’s no reason Governor Walz should even be considering expanding efforts until all of our seniors that want the vaccine have been given the opportunity to get it.”

State AARP Director Will Phillips asked Walz to make it easier for seniors to schedule appointments, enhance communication, and continue to prioritize older Minnesotans.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.