See more of the story

Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


Minnesota is among the top states for the percentage of adults age 50 and up who have had their second COVID-19 booster shots. But perspective is in order, and it takes some of the shine off this public health achievement.

Only 29.2% of Minnesotans in this age group who have had their first booster shot have followed up with a second, despite the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendation. That this percentage is nevertheless a stellar showing in a state-by-state comparison signals that the COVID booster campaign needs a boost as the pandemic continues.

Only three states did better than Minnesota, but not by much. Maine's 31.1% puts it first, with Oregon a close second at 30.6%. Washington is at 29.5%, edging into third place just ahead of Minnesota, according to the CDC's COVID data tracker.

Regrettably, one of our regional neighbors brings up the rear on this critical metric. In North Dakota, just 11% of those 50-plus who got their first booster shot have followed up with the recommended second. Even Mississippi, a state often at the bottom of health indicators, is doing better, posting 12.6%.

Age has been a risk factor for severe COVID and death since the pandemic's 2020 start, so it's essential to scrutinize booster uptake in this age group. But those 50 and up aren't the only ones who should get two booster shots. People age 12 and older who are "moderately or severely immunocompromised" also should get a second booster.

Conditions that may put you into this group include: "active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood," high-dose treatment with corticosteroids or other medications that suppress the immune system, and having advanced or untreated HIV. To see the complete list, go to

The CDC tracker doesn't allow second booster comparisons in this younger high-risk group. But the percentages in the 50-and-up group signal that there's room for improvement.

The pandemic isn't over. Cases nationally are trending up. So are new hospital admissions. Booster eligibility information is available from the CDC, the Minnesota Department of Health and medical providers. It's important to note that the CDC also recommends that "everyone ages 5 years and older should get 1 booster," after completing their initial series of COVID shots.

The vaccine remains our most potent weapon against COVID, and timely boosters provide critical protection for those at high risk of severe disease.