WAYZATA, Minn. (WCCO) — The Biden administration plans to release nearly all vaccine to states in an effort to speed up inoculations, a move supported by Gov. Tim Walz who has encouraged sending more doses.
On Friday, Walz visited Wayzata High School where EMS first responders received shots of the Moderna vaccine. More than 100,000 vaccine doses have been administered in the state so far, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
But number of doses received and administered is fewer than initially anticipated, after rollout faced a slow start.
Walz told reporters Friday that he doesn’t condemn federal officials but acknowledged they set high expectations.
“I think they set the bar very high and over-promised and it was more complex than that,” Walz said. “They told us we were going to get—we would be at–600,000 now, not 300,000.”
Walz joined a slate of governors, including Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in sending a letter dated Thursday to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging the release of the doses reserved for second shots.
The announcement from President-elect Joe Biden’s administration followed one day later, promising 100 million doses in his first 100 days.
The move, though, is raising some concern about if there will be enough vaccine for second doses, which need to be administered in the weeks following the first dose. But Walz said what officials told him about the supply chain makes him confident that second doses will still be timely.
“We’re basing that on where the manufacturing’s at and how it’s entering the stream that it should be there to continue to [vaccinate] with a high degree of certainty,” Walz said. “The worst thing is we get somebody one dose and we don’t have the second to give them on the backside.”
The state currently gets about 65,000 doses of vaccine per week, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcom said, adding there could still be some logistical challenges that arise.
It’s still unclear just how many doses the state will receive in light of this announcement, but officials estimate Minnesota could expect 2 million of the 100 million based on per capita analysis.
“Quite honestly this is another wrinkle we’re going to have to figure out—how to manage the second dose,” she said. “It makes a lot of sense to move vaccine faster if we’ve got the infrastructure to deliver it, which we have, and we’re just going to have to figure out logistics.”
The state has no yet received second doses, Malcom added. State officials anticipate Minnesota will have completed tier one of phase 1A of vaccination distribution, which includes mostly hospital-based health care workers, by next week.
Phase 1A and all of its subgroups totals 500,000 Minnesotans and the state hopes to complete that entire phase by the end of this month. The general public at this time can still expect to be eligible for vaccine by late spring or early summer.