DULUTH – St. Luke's has an ample supply of COVID-19 vaccines, and the Duluth-based health system is encouraging anyone who wants to make an appointment, no matter where they live, to drive up for the shot.

"Everyone is welcome to make an appointment. You don't need to be a St. Luke's patient or even be a resident of Minnesota," the hospital said in a news release.

Essentia Health has also opened its Miller Hill Mall vaccination site in Duluth for walk-in appointments available to anyone seeking a first dose of the vaccine. The site will accept up to 200 patients per day Friday and Saturday on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Both health systems are offering the Pfizer vaccine, which has been approved for those 16 and older. Those aged 16 and 17 must bring a guardian or a signed consent form to receive the shot.

On Monday Essentia will also be offering walk-in appointments for the Moderna vaccine, which is available only to those 18 and older.

The abundance of vaccines is a stark reversal from the early phases of vaccinations in the area just two months ago, when folks would drive to Duluth for an appointment made through St. Louis County only to be turned away for not being residents.

Nearly half of all St. Louis County residents have received at least a first dose of the vaccine, and 74,900 people — 37% of the population — have received both doses as of Thursday, according to state data.

"It's great that so many Northlanders have already received the vaccine," St. Luke's Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Harmony Tyner said in a statement. "The vaccine is extremely safe and very effective in protecting ourselves and those around us from getting COVID-19."

Brooks Johnson • 218-491-6496