Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL)

Back to profile

Comprehensive COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Monday, February 15, 2021

Dear Neighbors, 

This edition is devoted to providing practical information about Covid-19 testing and vaccination. Legislators are receiving periodic briefings from the Minnesota Department of Health and I have been spending quite a bit of time trying to obtain vaccinations for my own vulnerable loved ones (so far, unsuccessfully). I’ve picked up a lot of useful information in the process, and I’d like to pass it along.  

Covid-19 Testing 

Saliva Covid-19 Testing is available at Creekside Community Center in Bloomington this week and next: 

Creekside Community Center
9801 Penn Ave South
Bloomington, MN 55431
February 16-20, 22-26  12 - 6 p.m.  
Visit this site to schedule an appointment:? 

Covid-19 Vaccinations 

Like many of you, I have become frustrated about aspects of the Covid-19 vaccination program rollout. Of course, at the root of the problem is the fact that the State has only received a tiny fraction of the vaccine needed to vaccinate the State’s 5.6 million residents. So far, 661,000 Minnesotans have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. After a slow start, we’re now administering 88% of the doses that we’re receiving within 3 days of receiving them and 94% of them within a week. Getting the doses we have into arms – any arms – is not the problem it was at the beginning. If you want to track our overall progress, the State’s Vaccination Dashboard has excellent information. 

The frustration that many of us are feeling is due to the seemingly arbitrary nature of the distribution processes. Now that the highest priority populations – front line healthcare workers and residents and workers in long term care settings – have largely been vaccinated, the focus has to shift to teachers and seniors aged 65+. When this was opened up to seniors 65 and over, it greatly increased the eligible demand for the limited vaccine supply, making it harder for the especially vulnerable 75+ population to obtain the vaccine. I’m 68 years old and I would have much preferred that my loved ones in the 75+ age category have a better chance to obtain the vaccine than that I should gain a small chance of obtaining a vaccination for myself. Adults with medical conditions that render them especially vulnerable to Covid-19 should also be in line before me.  

Many of us have heard stories from friends and neighbors who have obtained a vaccination (or know someone who has) and the common thread in these stories invariably tells of someone who was either exceptionally lucky or extraordinarily persistent. Lucky like the friends who accompanied a teacher to a dedicated vaccination site for educators and were offered “leftover” vaccine so that it wouldn’t go to waste. Or the back office administrators at hospitals who were offered “leftover” vaccine meant for front line health care providers. Others spent hours monitoring reservation opportunities and were willing to drive, in one case, for over two hours each way to Alexandria, MN to receive a vaccination at a pharmacy there that had obtained a few doses. A few thousand people were the lucky “caller number nine” in the first rush of open reservations and others were lucky enough to win in the following “mega vaccine ball lottery”. 

If you’re trying to find a way to get your elderly or infirm loved ones vaccinated, here are some of the steps that you can take to improve their odds. 

  • If you managed to register yourself or your loved one for the “Covid-19 Community Vaccination Program” list (i.e., the vaccine lottery), they’re still on that list and they will eventually be contacted to make a reservation to be vaccinated at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About a third of the people on that list have been vaccinated, so far. That list is currently closed until the existing list is worked down.  
  • If you are a patient at a regional health care system like HealthPartners/Park-Nicollet, Allina, Fairview, etc., these large healthcare systems have now vaccinated most of their employees, including the ones who weren’t actually eligible, and are starting to vaccinate their patients. Most of us will eventually be vaccinated by our primary health care practice, which makes sense because they have our healthcare records and are in the best position to know who really needs the vaccine the most. If you or your loved ones are members of an eligible population, it wouldn’t hurt to call your doctor’s office to make sure that your health care records are in order and that they have you on their internal eligibility list.  
  • Some of these large healthcare systems are using an application called “MyChart” to communicate with their patients about vaccinations. If you’re not already a MyChart user, I would highly recommend that you become one, even if you’re not trying to obtain a vaccination. MyChart gives you a user-friendly portal into all your personal health care records and gives you an easy way to communicate with your doctors. You can usually sign up to use MyChart from your healthcare system’s website homepage. (You may have to contact your provider organization’s technical help desk to have the application activated for your account.)  You can download the MyChart app to your smartphone from the Apple or Android AppStore. Smaller healthcare practices generally don’t use MyChart but may have something similar.  
  • Pharmacies are beginning to receive allotments of vaccines. Locally, Walmart and Walgreens are receiving small allocations. If you are eligible, you can obtain a vaccination at Walmart or Walgreens, even if you don’t have your prescriptions filled there. However, you will have to create an online account with them on their website before you can attempt to make a reservation and, with Walgreens, it seems to facilitate the process if you also download their app from your AppStore. I tried both of these, today. Walmart had no availability for the coming week. Walgreens showed availability for several locations in St Paul for the coming week, but, when I went to book one, their application told me that I could only book one if I was also able to book the second dose at the same time – and there were no open reservations for second doses! You will probably have to check these websites repeatedly to obtain a vaccination through this channel.  
  • Not everyone has an established patient relationship with a healthcare practice or a pharmacy. For these people, there are community healthcare clinics focused on serving disadvantaged communities and these clinics are receiving a supply of vaccines, as well. 

The Minnesota Department of Health has created a Covid-19 Vaccine Finder which shows all of the locations receiving allocations of vaccines for eligible populations and an informative “About Covid-19 Vaccine” general information site, as well. May the odds be with you! 

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  

Recent News for Rep. Steve Elkins