As of March 30, all Minnesotans age 16 and older are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, prompting us at Minnesota Compass to take a look at the current state of vaccination—and vaccine hesitancy—in Minnesota.
By late March, nearly two in five Minnesota adults had already received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the number is steadily rising.
Minnesota is beginning to see the impact of vaccination, with daily new deaths dropping markedly from early January.
Older adults, who are the most at risk for severe illness from the COVID-19 virus, were among the first Minnesotans eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. By late March, more than 3 in 4 Minnesotans over 65 had received at least one dose.
As we would expect, daily new cases have fallen more rapidly for older adults than for other age groups, and it also appears that older adults may be avoiding the most recent upswing in cases that new variants and relaxed restrictions have brought to Minnesota.
Racial inequities in vaccine access are apparent
Minnesotans who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) have received vaccines at a lower rate than White Minnesotans.
The reasons for these disparities are complex, but include the fact that eligibility rules prioritized older residents, who are disproportionately White.
Additionally, the geographic distribution of vaccines prevents those without cars in the Twin Cities—disproportionately BIPOC residents—from accessing vaccine supplies in greater Minnesota, which have tended to be more available.
Whatever the causes, the vaccination disparity is a troubling trend for Minnesota, where we consistently rank among the worst in the nation for racial disparities across measures like homeownership, high school graduation, and health care access.
Intention to get vaccinated is similar across race groups
Although more White Minnesotans have received their first shots, BIPOC and White Minnesotans report similar levels of intention to get a COVID-19 vaccine once it is available to them.
In other words, our data do not support the popular claim that there is greater hesitancy to get vaccinated among BIPOC Minnesotans. However, targeted outreach that messages for and prioritizes BIPOC Minnesotans for vaccination remains critical for health equity.
Minnesota does see a divide in vaccine intent by education level. A larger share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher plan to get vaccinated compared to adults with less than a college degree, and particularly adults with no college coursework.
Reasons for vaccine hesitancy vary
We see a marked difference in the concerns Minnesotans express about vaccines based on their level of certainty that they will or will not get vaccinated.
Minnesotans who are not sure that they plan to get a vaccine are most likely to report concerns about side effects as a reason for their hesitancy.
Among Minnesotans who say they definitely will not get a COVID-19 vaccine (about 11% of all Minnesotans), the most common reasons given are distrust of COVID-19 vaccines, concern about side effects, distrust of the government, and belief that they do not need a vaccine.
Minnesotans who say they probably will get a vaccine (but not “definitely will”), are more likely to say that they plan to wait and see if the vaccine is safe, or that they think others need it more than they do right now.
As of early March, Minnesotans saying that they would “probably not” get a vaccine looked more like the “probably yes” group than the “definite no” group, with most saying that they are concerned about side effects and/or plan to wait and see.
Minnesota is making notable progress toward getting our residents vaccinated, and bringing severe cases of COVID-19 under control. But it is clear from the data that, to keep moving forward, we will need a multi-pronged public health approach that addresses issues of access for Minnesotans who want a vaccine but have not been able to get one, and also includes outreach to Minnesotans who are not certain that they want to be vaccinated.
This indicator is changing every day, so please keep checking in with our COVID-19 Vaccination section for the latest information!