Minnesota hospital system only offers COVID vaccines to ‘people of certain races,’ at-risk groups

Nonwhite people over the age of 16 can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at hospitals and clinics operated by M Health Fairview. White people cannot get the shot unless they're over 50.

University of Minnesota Medical Center (M Health Fairview/Facebook)

Minnesota’s expansive M Health Fairview system only offers the coronavirus vaccine to at-risk groups and “people of certain races.”

Fairview Health Services operates 10 hospitals and 60 clinics across Minnesota in partnership with the state-supported University of Minnesota. The organization employs over 34,000 doctors, nurses and other staff and constitutes a meaningful share of health care resources in the state. In 2018, its operating revenue was nearly $6 billion. It’s also allocating COVID-19 vaccinations on a racial basis.

The M Health Fairview website says it is “now vaccinating healthcare workers, individuals 50 years of age and older, people with certain conditions or disabilities, and people of certain races and ethnicities at highest risk.”

People over the age of 16 who belong to the following list of races are approved for vaccination regardless of underlying risk factors, according to the site:

  • Black/African
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native
  • Southeast Asian
  • Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian
  • Latinx/Hispanic

This race policy effectively permits all nonwhite people over the age of 16 to receive the vaccine, while whites who do not have any underlying risk factors will be barred from vaccination unless they are at least 50, according to M Health Fairview.

This screenshot of the Fairview Health website shows their exact breakdown of who can receive the coronavirus vaccine. (Image source: Screenshot/Fairview Health. Highlight added for effect. Captured 4/14/2021)
This screenshot of the Fairview Health website shows their exact breakdown of who can receive the coronavirus vaccine. (Image source: Screenshot/Fairview Health. Highlight added for effect. Captured 4/14/2021)

“People who do not meet these criteria do not need to get on a waiting list or make an appointment at this time,” M Health Fairview says, politely explaining that it will not vaccinate those who fail to meet these standards.

“Due to a statewide vaccine supply shortage, we are not yet vaccinating essential workers or the general public,” the organization’s website claims. 

Further, there is no indication that white people without underlying conditions will be able to receive the vaccine on an equal basis to their nonwhite peers any time soon at M Health Fairview facilities. “In the coming weeks, we will be vaccinating other age groups, in accordance with guidance from state and federal partners,” M Health Fairview says. This plan fails to mention any modification to the existing racial policy.

Meanwhile, Minnesota’s state guidance actually says that all people, regardless of race, can now receive the shot, per KARE 11.

“If you do not currently meet M Health Fairview’s vaccine eligibility criteria, you can visit the state of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program website on other locations that may be offering vaccines that you may be eligible to receive,” the health system’s website concludes.

In a recent email to patients, M Health Fairview acknowledged that Gov. Tim Walz expanded vaccine access to all individuals over the age of 16.

“M Health Fairview is continuing to prioritize older patients and those with specific health conditions making them more vulnerable to COVID-19. Once a larger percentage of these individuals have been vaccinated and more vaccine becomes available, our health system will open scheduling more widely,” the email continued.

Site users must push a button to confirm they “have read M Health Fairview’s current vaccine criteria” before they can make a vaccination appointment.


The Fairview health system webpage referenced in this report will likely be modified at some point. You may access an archived version that reflects the site a of 4/14/2021 here