The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that Phase 1b priority groups for COVID-19 verification includes education, including teachers and support staff members as well as child care workers. As Minnesota continues to prioritize healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff in Phase 1a for COVID-19 vaccination, Governor Walz directed his Administration, including the Education and Child Care COVID-19 Response Workgroup and COVID-19 Vaccines team at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), to pilot an effort for immunizing educators, school staff, and staff working in child care programs. This pilot program will help ensure that Minnesota has a robust process in place to prioritize all child care providers and staff when more vaccine is made available from the federal government.
The number of vaccines allocated per site is limited to the box size of vaccine (975 for Pfizer). The regions where the vaccine will be distributed are based on Minnesota Service Cooperative regions. The metro areas have been combined into one region and will receive five vaccine boxes. The distribution of vaccines at each site is 50% for education and child care workers and 50% for Minnesotans aged 65 or older. The child care allocation is then divided proportionally based on the percentage of education and child care workforce in each Minnesota Service Cooperative region.
▪ For education, each district, charter, tribal and nonpublic school receives an allocation of vaccines.
▪ For child care, the process of identifying providers to receive an option to participate is randomized by regional allocation, accounting for staffing by provider type (center-based and family child care).
Child care workers in this vaccine pilot are defined as: Child care staff who are working in-person and onsite at licensed and non-school based certified child care programs – including licensed family child care programs (Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) licensing data). School-based certified centers are included within the education definition. Child care providers were randomized for participation after being divided into groups based on their corresponding Minnesota Service Cooperative region and their service class.
▪ Licensed and certified centers were invited according to the random number assignment, based on estimated participation and available staffing numbers versus allocated vaccine slots (proportional to center workforce in this region). Appointments are not guaranteed for all staff of invited centers due to the limited vaccine allocations from the federal government.
▪ Licensed family child care providers were randomized and invited based on percentage of the workforce in the region. Like licensed and certified centers, each family child care provider selected for the pilot will receive a link and passcode to schedule a vaccine appointment. Appointments are not guaranteed.
Licensed and Certified Child Care Centers: If selected through the randomized process, an email will be sent to the child care center authorized agents or center operators. An appointment for each staff person receiving the vaccine must be scheduled online with a site-specific link, or in certain circumstances, through a call center reservation system. A password will be required for selected programs. Appointments are not guaranteed.
Licensed Family Child Care Providers: If selected through the randomized process, an email will be sent to the family child care provider license holders that are randomly selected (according to licensing data available). The appointments must be scheduled online with a site-specific link, or in certain circumstances, through a call center reservation system. A password will be required for selected programs. Appointments are not guaranteed.
Waitlists will be available for each site.
When scheduling an appointment and arriving onsite, individuals will provide their employer or DHS child care license or certification number to verify their program selection. The appointment times are allotted based on a selection process but cannot be guaranteed due to the limited supply of vaccine available to Minnesota from the federal government.
Equity and accessibility are central components of the vaccine pilot program. Through community partner engagement, the pilot program is embedding stakeholder feedback wherever possible. The demand for vaccine far outpaces the state supply at this time, and that is exactly why we are building the infrastructure now to expand access to vaccine for all Minnesotans when supply from the federal government meets demand. The Governor and state’s priorities include:
▪ Prioritizing Minnesota children and their child care and education settings
▪ Reserving specific appointment times for child care centers and family child care providers
▪ Providing appointment availability in the evening and weekends to accommodate child care provider schedules
The state has taken significant measures to ensure everyone’s health and safety at the vaccine pilot sites. As a result of utilizing a regional approach, it is possible that randomly selected child care providers have to travel long distances. And although appointments are required with no onsite registration, it is possible that individuals will encounter extended wait times. To help address these needs, eligible providers that receive COVID-19 Public Health Support Funds for Child Care in January and February may use these funds for costs associated with accessing the vaccine, such as travel costs and lost wages. More information will be available by the end of January.