Minnesota allocated nearly 900K vaccine doses so far

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota health officials reported Friday the state has now been allocated 871,650 doses of federally controlled COVID-19 vaccine, up more than 240,000 doses from a week earlier.

The state’s snapshot of progress in administering vaccines also showed that 214,050 people have gotten their first dose of a two-shot series, with 49,604 people having completed the two shots.

If all the state’s 5.6 million residents were to get two shots, the federal vaccine allocated so far would amount to less than 8 percent of what’s needed. The numbers don’t reflect doses sent directly to federal organizations in Minnesota such as Veterans Affairs facilities.

During a visit to a long-term care facility in New Hope, Gov. Tim Walz and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that with a new president came a different tone from the federal government that includes consistency in messaging about the virus and a willingness to understand the perspective of state and local governments in their virus response.

Should the Biden administration deliver on its goal of 100 million doses in the president’s first 100 days, that would work out to around 2 million doses reserved for Minnesota.

“At the rate we’re at, and this is where the frustration lies, it’s not fast enough so when they’re talking about releasing 100 million doses over that time … that gets us awfully close to (3 million) over the next 90 days,” Walz said. “If it falls short, again, we’re not closer to having that herd immunity.”

Minnesota officials have been eager to receive more doses of the vaccine, and launched nine pilot sites this week to administer shots to people 65 and up, in line with federal eligibility guidance that expanded to include the group. Teachers and child-care providers were also eligible to seek appointments at the pilot sites, though demand was so high and supplies so limited — just 6,000 doses for seniors — that a booking website crashed as appointments were snapped up.

The state has given top priority to health care workers and long-term care residents and staff, and officials said Thursday they’re on track to give the first of two doses to everyone in those groups by the end of January. The state’s virus dashboard shows weekly vaccinations ramping up since they began, with just under 5,000 shots given the first week the vaccine was available — Dec. 13 — rising to about 80,000 the week of Jan. 10.

The state is receiving an allocation of 68,000 doses next week, which includes second doses reserved for some who have received their first dose. Walz said they expect to see “a more predictable rhythm of what we’re going to get and how we’re going to get it” within the next week.