The place does Minnesota stand within the hunt for herd immunity?

The rush to get the COVID-19 vaccine has slowed, and some are concerned that Minnesota can reach herd immunity at that rate. Obstacles remain to the vaccine’s wider adoption and some people are reluctant to even get it. The inequalities in vaccination in different communities also persisted.

How are public health experts working to reach underserved populations and regions with the COVID-19 vaccine? What strategies are they pursuing to make vaccines more accessible? What conversations do you have with people who are reluctant to receive the vaccine?

“We have seen a very rapid surge in vaccinations over the past few months and now we are seeing that rise slow, and that is a cause for concern,” said Carrie Henning-Smith, assistant director of the Rural Health Research Center at the University of Minnesota, said MPR News host Angela Davis.

This slowdown may be due to structural issues such as access to vaccination sites and transportation, conflicts with work, and planning complications. Henning-Smith said public health officials are working to answer the question, “What can we do to remove these barriers for people so everyone can be fully vaccinated?”

Nneka Sederstrom, Hennepin Healthcare’s Chief Health Equity Officer, said that in order to overcome obstacles like this, it makes sense to proceed with a sense of purpose: “We have shifted from focusing so much on speed to focusing more on equity . “

Sederstrom’s outreach not only made the COVID-19 vaccine more accessible to underserved communities, it also helped convince some reluctant people to get their shots.

“We saw a lot of hesitation when we really deliberately and deliberately worked with certain community organizations or community leaders,” Sederstrom said.

Ultimately, according to Henning-Smith and Sederstrom, it is important to connect with anyone who is reluctant to receive the vaccine in order to protect everyone from COVID-19.

“We still have a lot to do to ensure that everyone sees their role in bringing about herd immunity and that everyone sees this as a collective responsibility,” said Henning-Smith.

MPR News lead reporter Catharine Richert also attended the show to update on the latest COVID-19 headlines, including new concerns about an increase in infections among children.

The bottom line when it comes to COVID-19 in Minnesota? “It’s still here,” said Richert.


  • Carrie Henning-Smith is the Assistant Director of the Rural Health Research Center at the University of Minnesota.

  • Nneka Sederstrom is Chief Health Equity Officer at Hennepin Healthcare.

  • Catharine Richert is a senior reporter at MPR News and has reported on COVID-19.

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Correction (April 28, 2021): In an earlier version of this post, Carrie Henning-Smith’s job title was incorrectly identified. The post has been updated.

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