Jan 25, 2021 - News

What's next for Minnesota's COVID vaccine rollout

Illustration of a syringe suspended and held up by red tape. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

State officials say President Biden's pledge to complete 100 million coronavirus vaccinations in his first 100 days could result in the state getting enough doses to come close to hitting herd immunity in the coming months.

Why it matters: If successful, it could mean returning to a state more closely resembling normalcy this summer. But getting there would require a big lift.

Driving the news: "We're racing the clock to get 3 million people vaccinated as quickly as we can," Gov. Tim Walz said Friday, referencing the state's herd immunity goal.

  • He projected the state could get enough shots for a big chunk of those residents if Biden follows through. That's on top of the roughly 250,000 Minnesotans who have already received at least one dose.

But, but, but ... Reaching that goal by late spring or even summer would require a big increase in weekly vaccine shipments and doses administered. And the state's initial rollout has been criticized by some as too slow, too rigid and hampered by communication and distribution issues.

  • We currently trail 35 states and Washington, D.C., in doses administered per 100K residents, per the CDC, raising questions about whether the state could deliver on such a promise even if supply goes up.
  • At the current rate, it could take until October 2022 to vaccinate 80% of Minnesotans 16 and older, per MPR News' David Montgomery. Hitting that 3 million goal by summer would require quadrupling recent daily shot totals.

What's next: Walz expects more details from the Biden administration this week. The state may hold off on announcing which groups will come next until leaders get a better sense of upcoming supply.

  • Legislative Republicans and pharmacies, meanwhile, urged MDH to lean more heavily on existing health systems, which already have appointment and billing processes in place. "Let’s play to that strength," state Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) told Axios.

1 hopeful thing: MDH said Friday that 80% of residents at skilled-nursing facilities have received at least one dose.


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