Governor Tim Walz Monday accelerated plans to make COVID-19 vaccines more broadly available across Minnesota, announcing a host of actions aimed at getting more doses to more Minnesotans as quickly as possible.
The actions included a new 72-hour goal for vaccine providers to administer 90 percent of their vaccine doses within three days of receiving them, and all doses within one week. While the state continues to face a crippling vaccine supply shortage, the new goals come after data released today by the state showed some vaccinators, including the national chain pharmacies engaged by the Trump Administration, lagging behind other providers in getting vaccine doses into Minnesotans' arms.
“The federal government simply has to step up with more vaccine. Minnesotans are ready for this pandemic to end but it’ll take far too long at the current rate we’re getting vaccine,” said Governor Walz. “But what gets measured gets done. Our 72-hour and one-week goals will hold all vaccinators accountable to make sure the doses providers do receive get into Minnesotans' arms as quickly as possible. Every shot in the arm is another step toward crushing COVID and ending this pandemic. And we're going to get this done."
The state initially tightly restricted vaccine administration to the specific groups explicitly eligible under federal guidelines. But, after changing guidance from the federal government, the Minnesota Department of Health loosened those restrictions January 14 to allow providers to offer extra vaccine to broader groups, particularly the over 65 population, and education and child care workers.
“COVID vaccines have extraordinarily complex handling requirements and the process of administering them is difficult. That’s why we wanted nothing to hold providers back from immediately using any and all vaccine they have available,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “We desperately need the federal government to step up and provide more but we also need providers to use what they have. That’s why we empowered them to do just that.”
The Governor also announced additional actions today to allow the vaccine to be administered more quickly and efficiently to Minnesotans. The actions are designed to accelerate the vaccine rollout while reinforcing the state’s commitment to equitable and safe vaccine distribution.
“We simply can’t wait any longer, we have to do more,” Governor Walz continued. “Today, I’m taking action and setting targets that will speed access to the limited vaccine we do have. These actions won’t make more vaccine appear out of thin air, but we’re going to get what we do have to Minnesotans as quickly as possible.”
Today, the Governor directed the following actions designed to accelerate the availability of vaccine across the state.
All providers should get 90 percent of vaccine received administered within 72 hours and the rest within one week. If a provider does not meet the goals, they should anticipate potential changes to their vaccine allocations. The directive to providers is aimed at more efficient vaccination and will allow for flexibility under certain circumstances that reflect the spirit of the directive (for example, if a provider has a mass vaccination event scheduled for the coming weekend).
Registration for the community vaccination clinics is improving. As announced earlier today, Minnesotans age 65 and older will now have a 24-hour window of time to pre-register for a randomized opportunity to get an appointment at one of the nine community clinics. The new process is geared toward preventing a surge of website and call center traffic at a given moment in time and allowing for more equitable access to appointments.
Additional models will be considered for large, community-based vaccination sites. Two of the current pilot sites will be dedicated to Minnesotans who are 65 and older, and later this week a mass vaccination event will be held at the Xcel Energy Center for educators and child care providers. The state will allocate 15,000 Moderna vaccine doses to this event as an extension of the education and child care pilot launched last week. Eligible individuals will be directly contacted through their employer to register for an appointment.