Minnesotans remain skeptical of latest COVID booster shot

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flannagan made a big deal out of getting the latest COVID booster shot back in September. They even included their spouses in the photo op, urging all Minnesotans to follow their example.

“This new booster represents another step forward in fighting Covid-19,” said Gov. Walz. “This variant-specific formula will play an important role in helping keep Minnesotans safe this fall, especially when paired with testing and therapeutics.”

In the meantime, the Minnesota Department of Health and medical establishment have pressed Minnesotans to get the latest shot. Yet the repeated reminders continue to largely fall on deaf ears. The latest MDH statistics unveiled this week reveal that less than one in four state residents have taken the Walz administration’s medical advice.

The campaign has included some unusual public relations stunts to convince residents to get on board. For example, the West Central Tribune featured a polka-themed public service advertising campaign aimed at residents in rural areas.

In the videos, Schwarz and the Newburgs are featured polka dancing. Emmis is seen getting his vaccination.

“It’s good to be vaccinated,” Ardis Hewburg says in the video. “A word to the wise is everyone should get vaccinated. You could still get sick, but you won’t die from it. You’ll get well again.”

Kenneth Newburg adds, “We have had our booster shots, so everybody, get your shots and booster.”

An October Star Tribune update on the uphill effort provided insight into what many Minnesotans evidently already know.

“The virulence of the organism as well as the increased immunity in the population has helped,” said Dr. Andrew Olson, a hospitalist at the M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center. “We still are seeing people who are ill and very, very sick from COVID in the hospital, but in a number that is relatively stable overall.”

An estimated 88% of Minnesota children have already been infected with the coronavirus that caused COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which based the figure on a review of blood samples for medical tests. Infection rates run higher in children, but data suggest that many Minnesota adults have had COVID-19 as well and gained immunity temporarily.

The CDC now estimates the number of Minnesotans under 18 who’ve been infected surpasses 90 percent. That may explain why that age group continues to have the lowest rate in the state for the latest booster.

One age group has overwhelmingly complied with the recommendation to get boosted, with nearly 60 percent of residents over 65 getting the jab. Things could always change if a new variant surfaces from China. But for now, most Minnesotans appear to be putting COVID in perspective, along with other seasonal illnesses.