MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Right now, only about 6,000 vaccines are available for Minnesota’s educators and child care staff. Those shots will begin on Thursday.

Amy Aho is one of twenty educators in Brainerd Public Schools who will get the COVID-19 vaccine later this week. She’s a speech language pathologist for kindergarten through fourth-grade students.

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“I felt like I won the lottery,” she said. “I have to see mouths for what I do. We wear shields – if they remember their shields – but I do feel like at times I can be fairly exposed.”

It’s the same story across the state, with Minnesota leaders acknowledging right now districts have far more demand than supply until the federal government sends more vaccine.

Districts were given guidance from the state on how to prioritize who could have access first. The state asks school districts to consider factors like risk of infection, risk of severe disease or death based on age or other medical issues, risk of transmitting the disease to others, and the risk of impact on society, or people who society depends on being healthy.

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“We really did take the best of the state guidance and customize it to those who should get it first. The folks who are dealing directly with students and those who have the greatest, closest impact to our youngest learners,” St. Paul Public Schools’ communication director Kevin Burns said.

St. Paul Public Schools got 88 doses. They are going to child care staff that have worked in person throughout the pandemic, and to special education teachers for young learners.

The district had less than 16 hours Monday to select the first vaccine recipients.

“If they said yes, we literally walked them through the registration process to meet the 11:59 p.m. Monday night deadline,” Burns said.

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The state says that education staff eligible for the pilot program vaccines can also include employees who contract through schools like bus drivers. The vaccines will be given at nine pilot clinics across the state.

Kate Raddatz