ST. PAUL — With COVID-19 vaccination rates for children age 12-17 hovering just over 60%, Gov. Tim Walz met with education officials on Monday, Oct. 18, to announce a special vaccination incentive program.

Under the terms of the "Kids Deserve a Shot" plan, all 12- to 17-year-olds who initiate and complete their two-shot series between Oct. 18 and Nov. 30 will receive a $200 Visa gift card.

Parents can register their children for the gift cards, once a two-dose series has been completed, beginning Nov. 9.

"If you're 12 to 17 and you haven't been vaccinated yet and you start your series and get that thing done -- $200," said Walz. "We'll put that in your pocket right away."

As an additional incentive to all Minnesotans between 12-17 who have had their shots, the state announced it will hold a series of drawings through the Minnesota Lottery for five $100,000 Minnesota college scholarships.

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The scholarships will become redeemable at any Minnesota based public or not-for-profit institution of higher education or graduate school, for use up until age 28.

"It's a thank you, an incentive, and an acknowledgment that the sooner we get this group vaccinated ... that once you get the statewide population close to that 80% number, you start to see amazing things happen with community infections dropping off," Walz said.

"This is a wonderful addition to our tool kit to encourage this cohort of 12-17-year-olds," said state Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm, who estimated that the 61% of the state's young ages 12 to 17 were now vaccinated with at least one dose. "It's good and it's going up incrementally and we'd like it to move faster," she said. "That's the purpose for the incentives."

The program is funded through $12.2 million of the state's $8.5 billion in federal American Rescue Plan funds

Asked about the state having dropped to the bottom seven states in the country for curbing spread, Walz said, "I say it's a failure of people to get vaccinated." He added that he believes being a northern state influences the state's poor showing. "But our infection rates are way too high."

The state has recorded 111 deaths from the virus since Thursday, Oct. 14.

"The idea that we have lost 111 people since Thursday in Minnesota," Walz said, "... I'm willing to bet of those 111 deaths, there won't be more than one or two that have been vaccinated."

Parents can register their children for the scholarship drawings any time once their two dose series has been completed. The drawings will be Nov. 19, 29, and Dec. 3, 10 and 17.

Details, including entry forms, are available on the Minnesota Department of Health webpage under "Kids Deserve a Shot."

Following are the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 case rates, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations as of Monday, Oct. 18. Because all data is preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES: 2,868
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE OF NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 51.5%

  • TOTAL CASES: 758,252
  • TOTAL RECOVERED: 726,330
  • 8.4%

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 1007

  • TOTAL HOSPITALIZATIONS: 39,849

  • DEATHS, NEWLY REPORTED: 29

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 8,436

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 3,448,442and 74.2% of population

  • COMPLETED SERIES (2 doses): 3,270,542 and 70.7% of population

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