MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm on Tuesday, Oct. 26, again rolled up their sleeves to get a booster of the COVID-19 vaccine. And, as they did back in March, the trio urged eligible Minnesotans to do the same.

The push to encourage first-time vaccinations and boosters for those who've been vaccinated and meet eligibility guidelines came as the state reported a slowing of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state. But while trends appeared promising, the governors said they hoped they could convince more Minnesotans to take the shot.

"I just want to encourage Minnesotans. There is a broad ecosystem to get this done," Walz, a first-term Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor, said at the event at a Cub Foods grocery in Minneapolis. "Remember that these are free and easily accessible."

RELATED: More than 6,500 new COVID-19 infections, 22 Minnesota deaths reported Tuesday

Pawlenty, a Republican, echoed that message and countered comments from some GOP candidates for governor who'd expressed skepticism about the vaccines' effectiveness.

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"These vaccines are one of the primary ways out of this pandemic and we want to get out of this damn thing as soon as possible," Pawlenty said. He pointed to the Trump administration's work in bringing the vaccines to market quickly and safely and continued, "the availability and the effectiveness and safety of these vaccines should be a point of pride, not a point of skepticism.”

All three received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March. Pawlenty opted for another round of that vaccine Tuesday while Malcolm and Walz said they opted for Moderna vaccines on their second dose. Each said they researched and felt their booster shot would be effective in keeping them safe.

Minnesotans who are 65 and older, those with underlying conditions and those who work or live in close proximity conditions that could put them at risk of contracting COVID-19 become eligible for boosters six months after receiving their completed set. Patients who receive Johnson & Johnson, no matter their age, health history or other factors, become eligible to receive a booster dose of that shot, or another, two months after they are immunized.

"Getting these boosters, for those who are eligible, is just another way of adding to that protection, strengthening that community safety net," Malcolm said, noting that the benefits of the immunizations can fade over time. "You still have that protection, the booster is just going to extend that protection and strengthen it."

Walz also said that the state expected approval for vaccination for Americans ages 5 and under to be vaccinated against COVID-19 next week. And the state department of health was working to free up access to vaccines around the state.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson, call 651-290-0707 or email dferguson@forumcomm.com