ST. PAUL — Elderly Minnesotans signed up by the thousands this week for a lottery system meant to distribute doses of the vaccine for COVID-19 in an equitable fashion.

A total of 226,244 people pre-registered for the lottery by the time it stopped accepting new requests Wednesday morning, Jan. 27, according to the Minnesota IT Services agency. Only a fraction of them will be granted appointments at what state officials call community vaccination clinics, which also serve school teachers and child care workers.

Approximately 9,425 doses of the vaccine are being set aside for Minnesotans ages 65 and older who visit the clinics this week.

State officials announced the switch to a lottery system less than a week after they announced the opening of the clinics, which are intended to help quicken the pace of Minnesota's inoculation campaign. Older Minnesotans last week signed up for appointments on a first-come, first-served basis.

Appointments for teachers, school staff members and child care workers, meanwhile, are being scheduled by their respective employers.

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The clinics are set to open Thursday, Jan. 28, through Saturday, Jan. 30. The clinics last week vaccinated approximately 13,300 people. A so-called mass-vaccination event for 15,000 Twin Cities area educators, school and child care workers is also set to take place in St. Paul beginning Thursday through Monday, Feb. 1.

Officials have said the clinics are part of a pilot program meant to help Minnesota get the hang of vaccine distribution in preparation for the day that more doses become available. Inoculation efforts were previously more targeted and focused exclusively on health care workers and long-term care facility residents, who are still being prioritized for the initial stages of the vaccine rollout.

Health care providers administering vaccines to that initial priority group were told this week to inject 90% of the shots provided to them for the week within 72 hours, and to administer the remainder within a week's time.

More doses of the vaccine do appear to be in Minnesota's future. Gov. Tim Walz's office said this week that the state will receive another 11,000 doses of the vaccine for the next three weeks as part of the federal push to increase vaccine supplies.

That's in addition to the roughly 60,000 already received each week.

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported that 375,934 doses of the vaccine have so far been administered. Around 73,300 people have received two rounds of the vaccine, which is required for maximum effectiveness.

Another 301,290 people have received at least one shot.

Health department officials this week said Minnesota's coronavirus pandemic situation appears to be stable. An additional 851 new cases of COVID-19 were nevertheless reported Wednesday, as well as 18 additional deaths caused by the disease.

Seven of the newly reported deaths occurred outside the metro area.

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  • Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
  • COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
  • Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.