ST. PAUL — Minnesotans are responding with interest to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for younger children now that they are eligible to get them, state officials said Thursday, May 13.

Youths as young as 12 in Minnesota can, with a parent or guardian's consent, make appointments or visit walk-in clinics to receive a shot of the Pfizer vaccine, which federal health regulators this week approved for broader use.

"As soon as some of our registration portals had been changed to accommodate for 12-plus, all of those appointments started snatching up really quick," Minnesota Department of Commerce Deputy Commissioner Anne O'Connor said at a Thursday news conference in St. Paul. "All of the sites will be opening up more appointments for next week, so there's going to be slots available."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest endorsement of the Pfizer vaccine comes amid a push in Minnesota to vaccinate teens and underserved residents. Before this week, only children ages 16 and older were able to get the vaccine in Minnesota. Federal regulators have not yet recommended vaccines developed by other pharmaceutical for children younger than that.

RELATED: Minnesota poised to begin vaccinating youth ages 12 to 15 against COVID-19

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Officials on Thursday could not say how many of the newly qualifying adolescents have signed up for appointments and estimate that Minnesotans ages 12 to 15 number roughly 200,000. Their immunizations won't count toward the goal of vaccinating 70% of residents ages 16 and older, to which Gov. Tim Walz has tied the end of the statewide mask mandate.

The mandate is slated to lift no later than July 1, according to a timeline Walz laid out last week, and additional capacity and social distancing limits are due to expire May 28.

It wasn't immediately clear Thursday how that timeline could change after the CDC earlier in the day advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places.

Vaccinating younger children will, however, still reduce the coronavirus' ability spread and, as Walz said Thursday, allow them to resume activities that "make summer great." Speaking in a downtown St. Paul convention center, the governor said one of his own children has already made a vaccine appointment.

The convention center is one of several places, along with sites in Mankato, Duluth, Rochester and St. Cloud, where walk-in vaccine appointments are now being offered.

Following are the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 case rates, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations as of Thursday, May 13. Because all data is preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES: 1,011
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE OF NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 26.5 (As of Monday, May 3.)

  • TOTAL CASES: 591,445
  • TOTAL RECOVERED: 574,208
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE TEST POSITIVITY RATE: 6% (As of Monday, May 3.)

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 453

  • TOTAL HOSPITALIZATIONS: 31,241

  • DEATHS, NEWLY REPORTED: 19

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 7,274

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 2,685,550 people, or 60.9% of residents age 16 and older

  • COMPLETED SERIES (2 DOSES): 2,228,982 people, or 50.5% of residents age 16 and older

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