By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday that the state’s COVID-19 vaccination effort is picking up steam with twice as many shots being administered per day this week compared to last.

The governor attributes the significant increase to rules he issued last week to jump start the vaccination rollout after its slow initial start. The directive told vaccine providers to administer 90% of their doses within three days of receiving them, and use the remainder within a week.

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(credit: Gov. Tim Walz’s Office)

“As I said last week, what gets measured gets done,” Walz said. “We still need far more vaccine from the federal government, but we are doing everything we can to get all Minnesotans vaccinated quickly and safely once supply arrives. We have seen good progress in vaccination rates over the past week and we will continue to work tirelessly to get all vaccine we receive into the arms of Minnesotans, crush COVID-19, and end this pandemic.”

Data released by the governor’s office shows that vaccinations surged last week, with the rolling seven-day average reaching nearly 30,000 doses administered daily by the weekend. A week prior, that average was around 17,000 doses.

According to the state’s vaccine rollout dashboard, a total of 559,383 doses have been administered in the state as of Saturday. Nearly 442,000 Minnesotans have received their first shot while more than 116,000 have received the full series.

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Beginning late last year, the state’s vaccination rollout initially targeted those in long-term care facilities and frontline health care workers. Last month, due to a change in federal guidelines, educators, child care workers and Minnesotans ages 65 and older began to be inoculated.

Over the weekend, the state held its first mass vaccination clinic, giving some 15,000 doses to metro area teachers and child care workers. On Monday, the governor announced that 35,000 doses will be available this week to Minnesota seniors, adding that they’ll be able to get the shots at local clinics and hospitals, as well as two community sites in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Also on Monday, an online vaccine finder tool was launched by the state. Initially, it’ll be used to help seniors see the clinics and hospitals near them offering the vaccine. As the rollout expands, it’ll offer resources to more Minnesotans.

Even so, the vaccine finder’s debut Monday came with headaches and disappointments. Many seniors who called clinics asking for appointments were told that the clinics had not yet received any doses, despite being listed on the map. At an afternoon new conference, state health officials pleaded for patience, saying that there is still not enough doses coming into the state for the roughly 918,000 seniors to get an appointment.

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This week, the state is expected to get about 98,000 doses. The majority of these shots will go to frontline health care workers and those in long-term care facilities. Many people in these groups, which constitute Phase 1A, have yet to receive their second vaccine dose.