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Advice is evolving along with the coronavirus. Here's the latest from staff and wire reports.

Where can I see Minnesota's COVID-19 numbers?

Check our COVID tracker.

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

Minnesota has several free COVID-19 testing sites that offer saliva and/or rapid tests. Health care providers and some pharmacies also offer testing.

Minnesota is phasing out a mail-in COVID-19 testing program and offering a new option to order four free rapid at-home tests per household. Order your tests here. Free tests also can be ordered from the federal government at covidtests.gov. The White House announced May 17 that U.S. households can request an additional eight free at-home tests to be shipped by the U.S. Postal Service.

You may find home rapid tests at pharmacies including Walgreens and CVS, grocery stores, health care providers and online, although supplies may be limited. Read more about testing here.

Minnesota health insurers are beginning to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests, but state officials advise that consumers should contact health plans first to understand how to access the new benefits. Minnesotans are finding plenty of gaps and footnotes in coverage. Insurers will pay up to $12 per individual test, or $24 for a package that contains two tests, and provide coverage for up to eight tests per person per month. UnitedHealthcare has agreements with Walmart and a growing list of retailers to make available free at-home COVID-19 tests when subscribers present their ID cards at pharmacy counters.

Where can I get a vaccine?

Check the state of Minnesota's vaccine page.

How can I make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for kids in Minnesota?

Minnesota has launched a webpage (mn.gov/vaxforkids) to help parents and guardians find a vaccine and answer questions.

More than 1,100 Minnesota providers, including pediatricians, pharmacies, local public health agencies and schools, are able to provide vaccines to children. Read more here.

What's the latest advice on when to get a second shot?

Some people getting Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines should consider waiting up to eight weeks between the first and second doses, instead of the three or four weeks previously recommended, the CDC said Feb. 22. Research suggests that 12- to 64-year-olds — especially males ages 12 to 39 — can benefit from the longer spacing, the CDC said. It also said the longer wait may help diminish a rare vaccination side effect: a form of heart inflammation seen in some young men.

The original, shorter interval is still recommended for people with weakened immune systems; people 65 and older; and anyone who needs fast protection due to risk of severe disease.

Can I get a vaccine incentive?

The $200 Visa gift card incentive ended Feb. 28. There were drawings for five $100,000 Minnesota college scholarships for all Minnesotans 5-11 years old who are fully vaccinated; the deadline was April 11.

Ramsey County offers a $50 Visa gift card program for people who get their first Pfizer shot at a clinic operated by the St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health Department, while supplies last. The program is open to everyone, regardless of county residence.

Hennepin County is offering vaccine incentives to community organizations.

What's going on with Johnson & Johnson shots?

U.S. regulators on May 5 strictly limited who can receive Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine due to the ongoing risk of rare but serious blood clots. The FDA said the shot should be given only to adults who cannot receive a different vaccine or specifically request J&J's vaccine.

What about booster shots?

The U.S. is urging that everyone 12 and older get a COVID-19 booster as soon as they're eligible. The FDA on Tuesday authorized a booster for healthy 5- to 11-year-olds, and the CDC's scientific advisers are scheduled to meet Thursday.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech is the only option for American children. U.S. guidelines say anyone who received two Pfizer vaccinations and is eligible for a booster can get it five months after their last shot. Anyone 18 or older can choose a Moderna booster five months after their last dose. For anyone who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the wait already was just two months.

People can mix-and-match boosters from any company.

The latest data suggest Johnson & Johnson recipients should get a booster with one of the messenger RNA vaccines, if they haven't already done so, and even consider a second mRNA booster for the greatest protection.

The CDC also recommended Jan. 4 that kids ages 5 to 11 with moderately or severely weakened immune systems receive an additional dose 28 days after their second Pfizer shot.

Experts agree that getting a booster too soon can reduce the benefit.

An early look at the performance of COVID-19 booster shots during the omicron wave hinted at a decline in effectiveness, although the shots still offered strong protection against severe illness.

Three doses of a COVID vaccine — or even just two — are enough to protect most people from serious illness and death for a long time, studies suggest. Although people who are over 65 or at high risk of illness may benefit from a fourth vaccine dose, it may be unnecessary for most people, said John Wherry, director of the Institute for immunology at the University of Pennsylvania. Read more here.

What about second boosters?

U.S. regulators on March 29 authorized another COVID-19 booster for people age 50 and older. The FDA's decision opens a fourth dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to that age group at least four months after their previous booster.

People 12 and older who have severely weakened immune systems also can get an additional booster, a fifth shot. Only the Pfizer vaccine can be used in those as young as 12; Moderna's is for adults.

Of the 1.3 million who got a second J&J shot, the CDC said they may choose a third dose — Moderna or Pfizer.

Should you get a second COVID-19 vaccine booster?

For now even infectious disease experts are uncertain. Dr. Frank Rhame, an Allina Health virologist, said the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bypassed their vaccine advisory committees, which could have issued clearer advice. Read more here.

What is the omicron variant?

First identified in Botswana and South Africa in November, the omicron variant has surged around the world. Scientists first recognized omicron thanks to its distinctive combination of more than 50 mutations. Some of them were carried by earlier variants such as alpha and beta.

The World Health Organization designated omicron a "variant of concern" on Nov. 26, warning that the global risks posed by it were "very high." Since then, the variant has been identified in at least 175 countries. Read more here.

What is BA.2 and is it worrisome?

There are several genetically distinct versions of omicron. In the United States this winter, BA.1 and the highly similar BA.1.1 drove an enormous surge in new cases.

In the late winter and early spring, a different subvariant, known as BA.2, gained steam, becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide.

Does omicron spread faster than other variants?

Yes. It is two to three times as likely to spread as delta. British researchers found that omicron was 3.2 times as likely to cause a household infection as delta was.

Many scientists believe that omicron may spread so swiftly because it is adept at dodging antibodies produced by vaccines and previous infections.

Omicron also appears to have a shorter incubation period than other variants do. People who are infected with omicron typically develop symptoms just three days after infection, on average, compared with four days for delta and five days for earlier variants. Read more here.

What are the symptoms of omicron?

One possible difference is that omicron may be less likely than earlier variants to cause a loss of taste and smell.

Data released in December from South Africa's largest private health insurer, for instance, suggest that South Africans with omicron often develop a scratchy or sore throat along with nasal congestion, a dry cough and muscle pain, especially low back pain.

But these are all symptoms of delta and of the original coronavirus, too. It's likely that the symptoms of omicron will resemble delta's more than they differ. Read more here.

How much do vaccines protect against an omicron infection?

During the U.S. omicron wave, two doses were nearly 80% effective against needing a ventilator or dying — and a booster pushed that protection to 94%, the CDC recently reported. Vaccine effectiveness was lowest — 74% — in immune-compromised people, the vast majority of whom hadn't gotten a third dose.

How can I tell if I have a breakthrough infection?

Most people will struggle to know for sure based on symptoms alone, without a nose swab to rule out the coronavirus. And if vaccinated people test less often, COVID infections could get dismissed as mild colds or go unnoticed.

British scientist Tim Spector, a founder of the ZOE app that tracks coronavirus symptoms, has said that people thinking they have colds when they really have COVID-19 could help fuel the pandemic. Read more here.

What is "deltacron"?

This rare hybrid variant contains genetic information from delta and omicron. There's no evidence it causes more severe disease, and it doesn't look like it's infecting many people.

What does the CDC say about masks?

Most Americans live in places where healthy people, including students in schools, can safely take a break from wearing masks under new U.S. guidelines. Read the CDC's latest advice here.

Travelers no longer have to wear face masks at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport or while riding Metro Transit trains and buses. A federal judge in Florida threw out a national mask mandate for public transportation across the U.S. The ruling gives airports, mass transit systems, airlines and ride-hailing services the option to keep mask rules or ditch them entirely, resulting in rules that vary by city and mode of transportation.

Americans age 2 and older should wear a well-fitting masks while on public transportation, including in airports and train stations, the CDC recommended May 3, citing the current spread of coronavirus and projections of future COVID-19 trends.

An uptick in COVID-19 activity prompted the city of Minneapolis on April 28 to recommend public indoor mask wearing again.

Should I still wear a mask?

Lab researchers have found that various types of face masks, including cloth masks, surgical masks and N95 respirators, help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Read more about the science of masking to help you make decisions about if, when and where to cover your face.

Is there a vaccine requirement in Minneapolis and St. Paul and at the U?

Minneapolis and St. Paul jointly rescinded their vaccine-or-test emergency regulations for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. The University of Minnesota also lifted its requirement. Individual business and outlets may continue requiring them.

What about entertainment venues and restaurants?

Requirements are changing, so it's best to check with a venue.

Audience members have to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results to get into a show at First Avenue or any of its sister venues, as well as the Dakota. In addition to that requirement, masks are required at the Cedar Cultural Center, Guthrie, Mixed Blood, the Ordway, Penumbra, Walker Art Center screenings and performances, History Theatre, Park Square Theatre and Shubert Club.

Minnesota Orchestra and Hennepin Theatre Trust's Orpheum, State and Pantages in downtown Minneapolis dropped the vaccine-or-test requirement, with masks recommended.

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, the Old Log and Northrop Auditorium have all relaxed their protocols to a degree. Target Center and the Xcel Energy Center have both suspended the requirement that patrons show proof of vaccination or wear masks.

Renegade Theater Company will require proof of full vaccination or a recent negative test to attend its performances at Zeitgeist Teatro Zuccone in Duluth.

Promoter Live Nation is also enforcing a vaccine/test requirement at all its indoor venues, including the Fillmore and Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, as is the Uptown VFW aka the James Ballentine VFW Post 246.

The Armory in Minneapolis does not have a standard policy. Attendees are being told to check armorymn.com to find out whether each show has rules in place.

Some restaurants including the Dakota and Hark! Cafe in downtown Minneapolis are asking indoor patrons to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

Where do I need to wear a mask?

The CDC recommended that people wear masks in K-12 schools and in counties with high or substantial levels of viral transmission. The Minneapolis and St. Paul districts recently dropped their requirements.

Minneapolis and St. Paul lifted their indoor mask mandates, as has Hennepin County. Visitors could still be required to wear masks in correctional, detention and health care buildings.

The state of Minnesota stopped requiring masks in its buildings, although agencies can choose to implement their own policies. Face masks are no longer required to enter Ramsey County buildings. Read more here.

Washington County ended its requirement to wear masks in county buildings Feb. 28, and Dakota County on March 1. There are some exceptions — such as vaccination clinics, jails and courtrooms. Read more here.

Scott County requires masks for all staff outside their offices and for the public at the jail, the courthouse, and public health and mental health centers, said Lezlie Vermillion, county administrator. The county requests the public wear masks in county buildings and will provide them as needed.

Anoka County doesn't required masks in its building except in group settings in the corrections department, a spokesman said.

Masks are required in many health care settings. Some businesses, entertainment venues and employers also may still require masks.

How can I get a quality face mask (and avoid counterfeits)?

There are so many different masks for sale, it's tough to know which ones have been tested and certified by government agencies, and which are counterfeit. Read a guide to choosing the best mask for you here.

Can I get a free N95 mask?

The Biden administration is making 400 million N95 masks available for free to U.S. residents. Read more on finding them here.

What is "long COVID"? Can I get it after an infection with omicron?

Overall, some estimates suggest more than a third of COVID-19 survivors will develop some symptoms of long COVID. The most common symptoms include fatigue, problems with memory and thinking, loss of taste and smell, shortness of breath, insomnia, anxiety and depression.

It's too early to know for sure, but many doctors believe it's possible to have long-term effects from the omicron variant of the virus. They typically appear about 90 days after symptoms of the initial COVID-19 infection go away, Maria Van Kerkhove of the World Health Organization said.

Scientists are racing to pinpoint long COVID's cause. Momentum is building around a few key theories. One is that the infection or remnants of the virus persist past the initial illness, triggering inflammation. Another is that latent viruses in the body, such as the Epstein-Barr virus that causes mononucleosis, are reactivated. A third theory is that autoimmune responses develop after acute COVID-19. Another possibility is that tiny clots play a role.

There is fresh evidence that vaccination may reduce the chances of developing long COVID. Read more here.

What should I do if I've been exposed to the virus?

The CDC suggests that people exposed to the virus quarantine for five days, unless they have gotten booster shots or recently received their initial vaccine doses. The agency said anyone exposed — regardless of vaccination status — should get tested five days later, if possible.

What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

U.S. health officials on Dec. 27 cut isolation restrictions for asymptomatic Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine. If you live with other people, that means staying in a separate room and using a separate bathroom, if possible. You should also wear a mask if you come into contact with others.

People with symptoms during isolation, or who develop symptoms during quarantine, are encouraged to stay home.

You should get care if you have trouble breathing or develop other serious symptoms. But there are many people with certain conditions — including heart diseases, diabetes and weakened immune systems — who should seek care even if they have mild illness, because of their elevated risk for developing serious complications. You should tell your doctor, who may prescribe medications. Tell the people you've been in close contact with.

The CDC said Jan. 4 that, for people who catch COVID-19, testing is not required to emerge from five days of isolation if a person has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and if other symptoms are resolving. The CDC said people should wear masks everywhere for the five days after isolation ends.

The CDC cited evidence showing that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

Can kids who've been exposed to COVID go to school?

The CDC said unvaccinated students exposed to the coronavirus could remain in school, as long as they are tested for the virus twice in the week after exposure and both tests come back negative; they should wear masks and socially distance.

Vaccinated students with exposures have generally been allowed to remain in school as long as they are asymptomatic and wear a mask. Read more here.

How much protection does the vaccine offer against omicron?

Overall, CDC data show that the vaccines were more protective against the delta variant than against omicron. Booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 90% effective against hospitalization with the omicron variant, the CDC reported. Booster shots also reduced the likelihood of a visit to an emergency department or urgent care clinic. The extra doses were most effective against infection and death among Americans 50 and older, the data showed.

Vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization with the omicron variant fell to just 57% in people who had received their second dose more than six months earlier, the authors found. A third shot restored that protection to 90%. Read more here.

What about natural immunity?

A prior infection doesn't seem to offer much protection against an omicron infection although, like with vaccination, it may reduce the chances of severe illness. Health experts say anyone who's survived a bout of COVID-19 still should get vaccinated, because the combination generally offers stronger protection. Read more here.

Is omicron leading us closer to herd immunity against COVID?

Herd immunity is when enough of a population is immune to a virus that it's hard for the germ to spread. Experts say it's not likely that omicron — or any other variant — will lead to herd immunity.

Early hopes faded for several reasons. One is that antibodies developed from available vaccines or previous infection dwindle with time. There's a huge variation in vaccinations. And as long as the virus spreads, it mutates — helping it survive and giving rise to new variants.

Populations are moving toward "herd resistance," where infections will continue, but people have enough protection that future spikes won't be as disruptive to society, said Dr. Don Milton at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Many scientists believe COVID-19 will eventually become like the flu and cause seasonal outbreaks but not huge surges.

What's going on with the federal vaccine mandate?

The Supreme Court has stopped the Biden administration's requirement that employees at large businesses get a vaccine or test regularly and wear a mask on the job, and the administration has formally withdrawn the rule. But the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a mandate for health care providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding, affecting 10.4 million workers. The rule has medical and religious exemptions.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled 2-1 on Feb. 9 to maintain a block on a federal worker mandate that a Texas-based federal judge had issued on Jan. 21.

Should you mix or match your COVID-19 vaccine booster shot?

Most Americans should be given the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead of the Johnson & Johnson shot that can cause rare but serious blood clots, U.S. health officials said Dec. 16.

What do federal regulators say about vaccines for kids?

The CDC on Nov. 3 cleared kid-size doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Pfizer has additional studies underway in those younger than 5.

U.S. regulators are delaying their decision on Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 17-year-olds while they study the rare risk of heart inflammation. The company also said it will delay filing a request for emergency-use authorization of a lower dose of the vaccine for 6- to 11-year-olds.

How often do COVID vaccines cause heart problems in kids?

While the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna do seem to be associated with an increased risk of myocarditis, the latest data indicate that the absolute risk remains very small and that most cases are mild and resolve quickly. Read more here.

Must the swab go that far up your nose to test for COVID-19?

Wariness about the test may arise from a simple fact: Most people cannot stand having something shoved so far up their nose.

Pain enters the picture when the swab — a tuft of nylon attached to a lollipop-like stick — is administered at the wrong angle, said Dr. Yuka Manabe, a professor of medicine specializing in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Read more here.

Do masks work?

Ordinary surgical and paper masks work when worn properly, said Chris Hogan, a University of Minnesota researcher who has studied mask effectiveness and is editor of the Journal of Aerosol Science.

Generally, the CDC says masks should "fit snugly over your mouth, nose and chin."

If you decide to keep wearing your multi-layer homemade or cloth mask, experts advise washing them every day. But proceed with caution. Read more here.

What about N95s?

Masks are best at keeping your exhaled particles away from others. Respirators, like the N95, also keep others' particles away from you. Any bona fide N95 has been certified to filter at least 95% of particles.

Many doctors and public health experts are now advocating for their use among the general public. Early in the pandemic, people were discouraged the masks over fear there wouldn't be enough for health care workers. That's no longer the case. Read more about N95 and KN95 respirators here.

Are employers mandating the vaccine?

Some workplace policies are making it more of a hassle for workers to resist the vaccine. Others culminate in unvaccinated employees losing their jobs.

Many Minnesota employers were relieved after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a federal vaccine-or-test requirement. Read more here. But thousands of Minnesota companies now have to decide: With no federal vaccine mandate, should they do it themselves? Read more here.

Bayport-based Andersen Windows and Doors said its existing 6,000 Minnesota workers don't have to be vaccinated, but all new hires do. And to qualify for its newly enhanced 2022 profit-sharing plan, which promises workers up to $4,000 per year, employees must be vaccinated.

Minneapolis-based Graco, with 1,500 Minnesota workers, said it's canceling plans to require vaccines or weekly testing and will terminate all data collection of employees' vaccination statuses. In contrast, the Plymouth candy maker Maud Borup, with 200 workers in Plymouth and Le Center, will continue its vaccine or weekly test mandates.

Many large health care groups such as Allina Health and Mayo Clinic are moving forward with their mandates. On Dec. 8, Maplewood-based 3M told workers that the manufacturer was putting on standby its plans to require vaccination. Read more here.

Macalester, St. Benedict and St. John's, Carleton and St. Olaf said they will require their students and employees to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more here.

Hennepin County requires its nearly 9,000 employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Ramsey County requires its 4,000 employees to provide proof of vaccination or submit to regular testing.

In late October, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said nearly every city employee would be required to have their shots completed by the end of the year, with exceptions for those who qualify for medical accommodations or religious exemptions. The union for a wide range of workers — from snowplow drivers to many of the manual laborers in the Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments — joined the police and fire unions seeking a regular testing option. St. Paul said Dec. 23 it will postpone enforcement for all city workers after a judge ordered St. Paul to stop enforcing a requirement while litigation continues.

A spokesman for Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group said a vaccination requirement applies to a "significant portion" of the roughly 220,000 employees in the U.S., including about 18,000 in Minnesota. Workers may request exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

St. Paul Public Schools and Minneapolis Public Schools require employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly beginning Oct. 15. Instead of showing proof upfront, St. Paul staff members will fill out a form and then be subject to potential audits later.

Intermediate School District 287, a cooperative serving about 1,000 high-needs kids in Hennepin County, said it requires staff members to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing or show proof of vaccination.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey signed an emergency regulation requiring city employees to get vaccinated or get tested regularly.

The Star Tribune required employees who report to work onsite or work with the public to be vaccinated, with an accommodation request process for medical or religious reasons, by Feb. 9.

Minnesota government employees returning to the office must prove they've been vaccinated or comply with at least weekly testing. The mandate applies to roughly 50,000 people who work under the umbrella of state government and on Minnesota State campuses.

Mayo Clinic said workers throughout the Rochester-based health system must get vaccinated or go through an hourlong education session. Essentia Health required all employees to be fully vaccinated by November. With few exceptions for medical and religious reasons, the mandate applies to all 13,000 of the Duluth-based health system's employees in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. Sanford Health is requiring all workers to get shots by Nov. 1. The Fairview and Allina health systems announced vaccine requirements with some exceptions for their workers.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis said it would require its 1,100 employees to get vaccinated by the end of August. Minneapolis law firm Robins Kaplan also has a vaccine mandate.

The federal Health and Human Services Department is requiring employees who provide care or services for patients to get their shots. The order from Secretary Xavier Becerra will affect more than 25,000 clinicians, researchers, contractors, trainees and volunteers with the National Institutes of Health, the Indian Health Service and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. The VA ordered its health care workers to get vaccinated.

Starbucks is no longer requiring its U.S. workers to be vaccinated.

Walmart required that all workers at its headquarters as well as its managers who travel within the U.S. be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 4.

Medtronic, which has its operational headquarters in Fridley, said workers need to be vaccinated or have a recent negative test result to enter U.S. offices.

Members of the U.S. military were required to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning in September, as were employees of the Pentagon.

How does pregnancy affect immunity?

Pregnant women who are vaccinated are nearly twice as likely to get COVID-19 as those who are not pregnant, according to a new study, and have the greatest risk among a dozen medical states, including being an organ transplant recipient and having cancer.

Dr. David R. Little, a researcher at Wisconsin-based Epic, said the findings buttress CDC recommendations that additional precautions against the virus should be taken during pregnancy, such as wearing masks and maintaining safe distances. Read more here.

Should pregnant women get the vaccine?

The CDC urged all pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine as hospitals around the U.S. see disturbing numbers of unvaccinated mothers-to-be seriously ill with the virus. Expectant women run a higher risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications from the coronavirus.

A research study based on data from Bloomington-based HealthPartners and medical centers across the country finds that pregnant women who received COVID-19 vaccines did not experience an increased risk of miscarriage.

If you're thinking of getting pregnant, there's no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, influence your chances of getting pregnant despite a myth suggesting otherwise.

Do pregnant women who get vaccinated pass the protection to their babies?

COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy can protect babies after they're born and lead to fewer hospitalized infants, a new U.S. government study suggested.

What if I'm going to Canada?

Canada will no longer require a pre-arrival COVID-19 test for vaccinated travelers as of April 1. See CDC travel guidelines here.

What about other countries?

After two years of warning travelers to avoid visiting a very long list of countries deemed to be "high risk" for coronavirus infection, the CDC has dropped them all from its list. Read more here.

Are the vaccines approved by the FDA?

The U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer's vaccine on Aug. 23. The formula, jointly developed with Germany's BioNTech, will be marketed under the brand name Comirnaty. The U.S. granted full approval to Moderna's vaccine, Spikevax, on Feb. 7.

Johnson & Johnson, maker of the third option in the U.S., has not yet applied for full approval.

Are the vaccines safe?

A review of 6.2 million vaccine recipients in Minnesota and seven other U.S. regions found no significantly elevated rates of conditions such as stroke or heart attack immediately following COVID-19 vaccination. Bloomington-based HealthPartners participated in the study, which looked for elevated rates of 23 potential side effects in the first three weeks after people received Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Who qualifies for an extra shot?

Federal officials approved a third dose for those undergoing cancer treatment, who've received organ transplants or had other conditions that depress the body's immune system. These doses are not considered to be boosters.

Can kids get long COVID?

Yes, but studies indicate they're less likely than adults to be affected by symptoms.

A recently published U.K. study found about 4% of young children and teens had symptoms more than a month after getting infected. Fatigue, headaches and loss of smell were among the most common complaints and most were gone by two months. Coughing, chest pain and brain fog are among other long-term symptoms sometimes found in kids, and can occur even after mild infections or no initial symptoms.

Some studies have found higher rates of persisting symptoms than in the U.K. study.

Kids can develop other rare problems after a coronavirus infection, including heart inflammation or a condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Because of the potential for long-term consequences, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends follow-up doctor visits after children recover from an initial coronavirus infection.

What is a COVID-19 vaccine "breakthrough" case?

It's when a fully vaccinated person gets infected with the coronavirus. While the vaccines are very good at protecting us, it's still possible to get infected with mild or no symptoms, or even to get very sick. If you do end up getting sick despite vaccination, experts say the shots help reduce the severity of the illness.

How do Pfizer and Moderna vaccines compare?

In a half-dozen studies, Moderna's vaccine appeared to be more protective over the long term than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

What is the Docket app?

Minnesota introduced the Docket app for viewing personal immunization records in response to rising demand — largely because of more COVID-19 vaccination requirements by employers and organizations. State leaders said this is not a prelude toward a COVID-19 vaccine passport or government vaccination requirement.

Correction: Previous versions of this story incorrectly described the Ramsey County Deputies’ Federation’s stance on a proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for county employees. Previous versions of this story incorrectly stated the Capella Building requires masks.