ST. CLOUD -- The state launched its new pilot program this week offering a small number of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Minnesotans 65 and over, pre-K through grade 12 educators, school staff and child care workers.

Chad Dunkley is the CEO of New Horizon Academy. He says he understands there is a limited supply of vaccine available to daycare providers, but they are excited for this opportunity.

We are talking about 2,000 doses that are dedicated to child care professionals. That's a pretty small part of the early childhood workforce in Minnesota, but it's a pilot and they only had a few doses. We're excited just to be getting it.

He says of their 72 facilities, three were selected to receive this first round of vaccine. Of those three, the St. Cloud and Sartell locations were not on the list.

Dunkley says the state has an algorithm that decides which daycare facilities will receive the vaccines, and he expects more of their locations will be selected in the coming weeks.

Every week there should be a certain amount of the doses that are sent to Minnesota that are dedicated to child care providers and K-12 educators. Our hope is that they keep allocating amounts so every early childhood educator and public school educator will have the opportunity to voluntarily get vaccinated.

Dunkley says they understand this is a pilot and things may change with how the vaccines are distributed.

He says he's proud of their providers and teachers for their dedication to families throughout the pandemic and views this pilot as the state's way of saying thank you for their efforts.

Since noon Tuesday nearly 6,000 residents 65 years of age and older registered for their first and second doses of the vaccine. Additional appointments are reserved this week for almost 6,000 prekindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, school staff, and child care workers throughout the state.

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