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Vaccines: State must remain nimble in rollout

Minnesota’s rollout of coronavirus vaccines has to this point remained somewhat underwhelming. It’s important the state overcome bureaucratic obstacles and manage not only distribution of vaccines but the risk of each form of distribution.

Federal data comparisons show Minnesota in the middle of the pack for the quickness of its vaccine distribution, with about 40 percent of its allocation delivered into the arms of patients according to data released Thursday. State officials say the slower rollout is due to the state following more closely the CDC guidelines on who gets vaccines first. In Minnesota, that means long-term care facilities with at risk elderly populations came first along with their caregivers.

Going that route typically slows vaccine distribution due to intermediate steps that must be taken to secure vaccines and follow procedures for the long-term care facilities. States that varied from the CDC guidelines distributed some vaccines immediately to other populations such as those over 65 who could get shots more quickly and easily at larger, more streamlined vaccination sites.

That’s a fair assessment and there has been plenty of public support in Minnesota for making the sick, the elderly and those most at risk for COVID a priority for vaccines.

But it was good to see Minnesota take a more balanced approach with the establishment of nine pilot programs around that state designed to get vaccines to those over 65, school teachers and child care workers. One of the sites is located at Dakota Meadows Middle School in North Mankato. The statewide pilot program’s 6,000 slots for those over 65 filled up quickly and the reservation website was overwhelmed by Wednesday.

The state is directing about 20 percent of its 60,000 weekly vaccine allocation to the special program covering both groups.

Getting vaccines quickly and efficiently matters. The more people we get vaccinated quickly, the more we can reduce the risk of spread. The more we can reduce the risk of spread, the more we can keep businesses open to get the economy running again.

And, of course, the quicker we get vaccines out to people, fewer will die.

— Mankato Free Press

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