Some Minnesotans experienced delays with the state's new COVID-19 vaccine sign up system Tuesday morning, while others were able to get in fairly quickly.
State officials retooled the vaccine rollout to those 65 and over after many people experienced frustrating delays last week when the appointment system was first launched.
A total of 284,441 Minnesotans have been vaccinated as of last Sunday. That includes nearly 75,000 over the age of 64 who've gotten a shot. Many of those have been long-term care residents, but the process is slowly opening up to other seniors.
Rather than making appointments at one of nine community vaccine clinics, people now must register to be placed in a lottery that will randomly choose who will get one of the coveted slots.
"It didn't take long at all," said Craig Vanderah of Prior Lake, who signed on at 4:55 a.m. before the new system launched five minutes later. "It told me right away that it would take 15 minutes."
As of late morning, nearly 162,000 people had registered on the state website and nearly 50,000 had placed calls. A state spokesman said there is no limit to the number of people that can register.
Like others, Vanderah experienced problems last week. He was able to put himself on the waiting list but was unsuccessful getting the same thing for his wife.
"It just jammed up and nothing happened," he said. "We got nowhere with that last week."
Others have told the Star Tribune that they experienced similar problems Tuesday morning, including long wait times.
John Dowling of Duluth said he waited an hour behind 13,000 other people in the queue shortly after the system opened, but once he got in he was met with confusion.
He was asked for his address, but the website rejected it.
"The first time it didn't recognize my address at all, but then it said I was on the waitlist," Dowling said. Unsure if he was really registered, he tried again.
"I had so little faith that I would get through because of what happened last week," he said. His second attempt took about 20 minutes, but again he was put on the waitlist.
"I was only trying to be sure that I was in the lottery," said Dowling.
A state spokesman confirmed Tuesday that being wait-listed is the same as being registered.
Several report that they are confused about where and when they will be assigned for the vaccine if they do get picked.
"I managed to get my 79-year-old husband registered this morning through the state but I have no idea what that means in terms of an actual, scheduled shot," said Mary Jane Miller of Chanhassen.
"I would also like to see a more transparent and more equitable plan than we currently have in Minnesota," she said. "Friends and family in Florida and Arizona report that they have already received the vaccine."
Minnesota health officials announced Tuesday another eight deaths and 727 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The deaths were among those aged 60 to 84 in Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Lyon and Yellow Medicine counties. One of those who died was a long-term care resident.
A total of 10,929 test results were reported to state health officials Monday.
Teachers and child-care workers are also being given shots, with employers choosing who will get the vaccine.
The state allocated 15,000 doses for the mass vaccination of educators this week — with the location being moved to Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul for those in the metro area. Rural teachers will continue to receive shots reserved for them at seven of the state's vaccination sites.
Seniors will have access to 8,000 doses this week at the nine community sites — though the Andover site is being relocated to Blaine.
Staff writer Jeremy Olson contributed to this report.
Glenn Howatt • 612-673-7192