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COVID-19 boosters encouraged amid surge in Minnesota case counts

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:20 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:49 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - A surge in COVID-19 cases is sweeping across the state, overburdening healthcare workers and pushing hospitals to capacity.

Experts say the solution may be as simple as another poke in the arm.

“They’re just trying to remind our immune system to make those antibodies during the high risk times,” said Dr. Richard Peller, a family medicine physician at Mankato Clinic.

Vaccine boosters are now available to Minnesotans 18 and older.

“I can’t stress this enough, the biggest keys to stopping what you’re here for is stopping the spread of COVID through the most effective means [which are] vaccines,” stated Gov. Tim Walz.

Mankato Clinic said the extra dose is needed to maintain immunity over time.

“When we either get the coronavirus or when we get the vaccines for coronavirus, it makes the antibodies for the time being, and that’s typically three to six months,” Peller added.

The recent eligibility expansion is just one of many ways the state is trying to slow the spread, which is taking a toll on hospitals.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, more than 75% of ICU beds are currently full, and over half of the state’s hospitals have no vacancies of any kind.

“We’re getting our hospitals, and ERs and urgent care overwhelmed. People who come in with heart disease, or some significant other non-COVID infection, their treatment is being greatly delayed because they’re so busy with these other cases,” Peller explained.

Walz is enlisting the help of 400 Minnesota National Guard soldiers who will train as temporary nursing aides and certified nursing assistants.

He’s also proposing to provide $50 million in federal funding to help hire and retain healthcare workers.

On Monday, the state reached a new milestone, with 80% of its adults receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’m proud to say, as of today, Minnesota ranks second among the states in terms of adults who have boosters shots,” Walz added.

Mankato Clinic hopes to see that percentage grow through the holidays.

“If you never get infected, you can’t pass it on to other people; your mother, your grandmother at Christmas, Thanksgiving,” Peller said.

Visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s website to find a vaccine in your area.

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