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Town Hall and Vaccine Update

Monday, January 25, 2021

Dear Neighbors,

President Biden is receiving accolades from across the political spectrum for the call to unity expressed in his inaugural address. Now, the challenge falls to us to put these sentiments into action. As was the case last session, most of the bills I have introduced, so far, have Republican authors in the Senate and that will continue to be the case for the remainder of this session. With the only divided legislature in the country, working across the aisle is the only way that we’re going to accomplish anything this session. I will once again be a member of the Legislature’s bi-partisan “Civility Caucus”, which brings Democrats and Republicans together to find common ground and forge constructive working relationships. Republican Senators such as Sen. John Jasinski, who I met through the Civility Caucus, and Sen Rich Draheim, who I work with on healthcare pricing transparency and housing affordability legislation have become regular partners in my work. 

Virtual Town Hall

Join Rep. Edelson, Sen. Franzen and I for our first town hall of the 2021 Legislative Session Tuesday, February 9 at 7-8:30pm. Please RSVP, and submit a question to be asked during the event. We will send out the Zoom link the day before. You can join on Zoom or watch it on Facebook live. We look forward to your engagement.


Vaccine Pilot Program Launches

Last week, Minnesota rolled out a pilot program which established new vaccination sites at nine locations around the state. Individuals who are 65 years of age or older, as well as school staff and child care workers (who have been notified by their employer if they’re eligible), can now make appointments to receive the vaccine at one of these sites. Additional sites will be established as more vaccines become available and, at some point, we can expect that there will be a community vaccination center in southern Hennepin County. 

Setting the age limit at 65, instead of 75, was in response to a new CDC guideline which created a broad expectation that the vaccine should be made available to anyone 65 or older. However, the federal government has nowhere near enough vaccines to cover everyone in that expanded age group, plus teachers, who are in the same priority group. Predictably, when the appointment line for this program opened up last Tuesday, it was, in the Governor’s words, “like trying to get tickets to a Springsteen concert on Ticketmaster the instant that they go on sale”. I understand that this process was frustrating, with some people spending hours on the phone or internet trying to get through. But as a test rollout, this program is meant to show the state what works and what doesn’t so they can create a better system when we receive more vaccines.

If you fall into one of these groups, the next round of appointments will open up at noon, tomorrow, Tuesday, January 26 and, this week, the process is being significantly improved: Everyone who is eligible will have 24 hours to register for a vaccine lottery and the “winners” will be notified the next day. No need to frantically dial in. You can book appointments online here, or by phone at 612-426-7230 or toll free at 833-431-2053. 

When vaccines become more widely available, most of us will eventually be vaccinated at our regular doctor’s offices or pharmacies, the way that we would receive any other vaccine. 

Vaccination Dashboard

I’m hearing much consternation about the fact that Minnesota’s rate of vaccine administration stats appear to be middling, at best. We always expect to be “above average”. Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) officials attribute this to several factors:

  • The count of doses “allocated” to each state doesn’t reflect the actual number of doses that have been received by each State, which is quite a bit lower.
  • There is up to a 72 hour lag between the time of the vaccination and its reporting to MDH.
  • The national pharmacies that have been contracted to administer the vaccine at nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been slow to ramp up.
  • At some health care facilities and senior housing locations, from 15-25% of the staff have refused to be vaccinated, which is alarming.
  • The state has been holding enough doses in reserve to be able to administer the necessary second dose to front line health care workers and senior care residents and workers. The Federal government told states to go ahead and administer these doses to additional seniors and teachers and promised to backfill these doses out of a federal reserve -- which turned out to be non-existent. As a result, the State has had to maintain its own reserve of second doses. 

The State has established a vaccination dashboard where you can track our progress, which you can find, here:

Legislative Priorities for the House DFL

Last week, we rolled out the House DFL’s initial legislative priorities for this year’s session, with a focus on getting Minnesota through this pandemic and ensuring that we have the resources necessary to bounce back. While protecting and investing in economic security, worker protections, education, child care, and health and human services are crucial components for Minnesotans, we’re diligently working within all policy areas to build a better state.

Session Priorities v3

Keep in Touch 

Now more than ever, please contact me anytime with questions, input, or ideas. Don’t hesitate to reach out if I can provide any assistance. Please follow me on my Facebook page for further updates and invite your friends and family to do so as well.  

Thanks for the honor of representing you at the Capitol. 


Steve Elkins 
Representative, District 49B 
Minnesota House of Representatives 
515 State Office Building 
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
St. Paul, MN 55155 
(651) 296-7803

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