By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A day after the Food and Drug Administration authorized a third COVID-19 vaccine dose for those with severely weakened immune systems, the Minnesota Department of Health reported 1,336 new cases of the virus and six deaths.

The late-night announcement from the FDA approves a booster shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for people who are especially high risk due to an organ transplant, certain cancers, or other conditions. The FDA estimates the group comprises of no more than 3% of adults but the shots will allow them to rev up their immune systems even more to fight COVID-19.

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In Minnesota, more than 3 million residents are fully vaccinated. On Thursday Gov. Tim Walz announced that 70% of the state’s population 16 and older had received at least their first dose.

With a 58% vaccination rate, Minnesota leads the Midwest in the percentage of the total population to have at least one shot, though the figure is lower for younger groups: 46% of 12- to 15-year-olds and 54% of 16- to-17-year-olds have their first dose.

However in the past two weeks, more than 20,000 12- to-17-year-olds received their first dose, a figure which is up 107% for the 12- to-15-year-olds and up 112% for the 16- to-17-year-olds.

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Health officials are encouraging vaccinations – even providing a $100 incentive – as the Delta variant spreads, stressing that it is the best way to protect against the virus and will alleviate strain on the health care system.

For the first time since May, the MDH on Thursday recorded more than 100 people in Minnesota ICU beds with COVID-19. As of Thursday afternoon, there were 110 people in the ICU and 279 in non-ICU beds with the virus. In the metro area, nine ICU beds – or 1.3% of staffed beds – are available for use.

The state is seeing about 5.2 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, a figure that has risen in the past few weeks. Similarly, the seven-day average positivity rate has climbed, reaching 5.1% as of last week.

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In all, 624,851 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Minnesota since last March, along with 7,729 deaths. More than 27,000 COVID-19 tests were processed in the last 24 hours.