MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says a COVID-19 vaccine could be on its way to the state as early as next week.

On Tuesday, Walz and state health officials unveiled plans to distribute the vaccine as soon as it is approved for emergency use.

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According to Walz, the state could have up to 46,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by next week. In the second week, 94,800 vaccines from Moderna are expected. In total, 183,400 doses of the vaccine from both companies are expected by the end of the year. Walz stresses that the numbers are unconfirmed and based on the most recent forecast from the federal government.

“There are a number of factors outside of our state government control when it comes to getting the vaccine to Minnesotans, including the federal government’s national guidelines on distribution and the supply of the vaccine. But in Minnesota, we are ready for the vaccine at the moment it becomes available. Our infrastructure is set and our plans are ready to execute. Until then, we need to stay patient, remain hopeful, and keep up the fight,” Walz said.

(credit: State of Minnesota)

The vaccines will be shipped directly to key hospitals or hubs across the state, and will be distributed further to clinics. The vaccines will be focused “protecting life and health of those most susceptible to serious complications and those who care for them.”

(credit: State of Minnesota)

Health officials say that both versions of the vaccine will require two doses, roughly a month apart.

According to state officials, there will be equitable distribution and access to the vaccine, with no procedural or structural issues that will impact access.

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(credit: State of Minnesota)

Walz’s update comes on a historic day in the fight against the virus. U.K. health authorities began rolling out the first doses of a widely tested and independently reviewed COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday. The first recipient was grandmother Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week.

The second injection went to a man named William Shakespeare, an 81-year-old who hails from Warwickshire, the county where the bard was born, prompting a likely-well planned response online and in the press.

The FDA released documents Tuesday morning confirming that Pfizer’s vaccine candidate is highly effective. Health officials say a decision on giving the vaccine emergency use authorization is expected Thursday.

COVID LATEST

A day after Minnesota surpassed 4,000 overall deaths due to COVID-19, Minnesota health officials on Tuesday announced 22 additional deaths and 3,080 new coronavirus cases.

With Tuesday’s update from the Minnesota Department of Health, the state is nearly at 360,000 overall cases since the pandemic began. More than 26,000 cases have been confirmed among health care workers. About 315,000 people who contracted the virus no longer need to quarantine.

Deaths now sit at 4,027, with 2,660 of those occurring in long-term care (LTC) or assisted living facilities. Fifteen of the 22 additional deaths reported Tuesday involved a patient in LTC or assisted living.

Along with relatively low case numbers reported Tuesday, testing also dipped. In the last 24 hours, 27,432 COVID-19 tests were completed. On Monday, MDH reported over 63,000 tests completed in 24 hours. Overall, about 2.68 million people have been tested in Minnesota so far.

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In hospitals, 359 COVID-19 patients need intensive care unit treatment as of Monday. An additional 1,245 COVID-19 patients require non-ICU treatment. Since the pandemic began, about 18,594 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 (4,063 in the ICU).