State officials have begun notifying seniors who were picked to receive COVID-19 vaccines this week.

More than 206,000 Minnesotans age 65 and over have registered to get the shot. That includes those who signed up on a state website or by phone Tuesday, as well as 11,000 who were on the waiting list from the previous week.

A total of 9,425 appointments are available this week at nine state community testing sites.

"Those who are randomly selected from the preregistration list will be proactively contacted starting on Wednesday to register for available vaccine clinic appointments," said Tarek Tomes, the state's chief information officer.

People will be notified by text, e-mail or phone. No more than two attempts will be made if someone requested to be notified by telephone.

Those who are not chosen to receive shots this week will remain on the registration list and will be eligible for the vaccine in future weeks.

The Brooklyn Center and Blaine vaccination sites will give shots to seniors only. Sites in Fergus Falls, Mountain Iron, Thief River Falls, St. Cloud, North Mankato, Rochester and Marshall will see both seniors and education and child-care workers.

A new site in St. Paul will be dedicated to teachers and other school workers as well as child-care employees. Altogether, 15,000 shots will be given to that group, which is being scheduled through a different system.

Seniors who live in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities are getting shots on site.

So far, 301,290 Minnesotans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, including 74,721 over the age of 64.

State health officials announced 18 COVID-19 deaths and 851 new confirmed cases Wednesday.

That brings the pandemic totals to 6,124 fatalities and 457,317 known cases.

Those who died were between the ages of 54 and 100. They lived in Anoka, Dakota, Goodhue, Hennepin, Lyon, Nicollet, Otter Tail, Ramsey, Rice, St. Louis, Washington and Wright counties. Ten were residents of long-term care facilities.

Diagnostic laboratories reported 20,899 COVID-19 test results to state officials.

Minnesota's hospitals were caring for 477 COVID-19 patients. Of those, 97 in were in intensive care.

Most people who need hospitalization have underlying health conditions, including obesity, diabetes and hypertension, that make them more susceptible to COVID-19 complications.

Many who get infected have mild or no symptoms, but they still can pass the virus on to others.

Since the pandemic began, 441,740 are no longer considered to be a transmission risk and do not need to isolate.

Glenn Howatt • 612-673-7192