Minnesota, Wisconsin health officials discuss where they are at in vaccination process

Callan Gray
Updated: January 12, 2021 03:05 PM
Created: January 11, 2021 10:45 PM

The United States is entering its second month of the biggest vaccination effort in history. It comes as health officials confirmed Minnesota's first cases of a more contagious strain of the virus over the weekend.

“Getting as many people vaccinated as possible will also be critical in the control of the spread of this variant and the emergence of other variants,” said Sara Vetter, assistant director of the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Lab.

According to the CDC, Minnesota has distributed 157,245 doses so far out of 422,450 provided to the state.

Minnesota ranks among the top 20 states for total number of vaccine doses administered so far. The state drops to the halfway mark when looking at the proportion of the population vaccinated, according to the CDC’s data.

“Are we satisfied from that point? No, we would like to speed up every step of that process that we can,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm. 

The state recently surveyed its hospital partners and found vaccines were being administered Monday through Friday. MDH said it plans to urge providers to give doses seven days per week.

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In addition, Malcolm said the data doesn’t necessarily reflect the whole picture.

“It takes up to, more than a week for the allocated doses to actually arrive to Minnesota and that can vary from state to state,” she said. “Some states might get more of their weekly shipment earlier in the week and have more days of the week to vaccinate.” 

Wisconsin is reporting similar progress. According to health officials, 151,502 doses have been administered with 11,586 people receiving their second shot.

The state has been allocated 418,755 doses, according to the CDC.

“We've given about a third and about a third is held for the long-term care pharmacy program,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. “The remaining third is the supply that's available for the next couple of weeks.”

It’s been nearly a month since Phase 1A started in Wisconsin, with vaccines going to frontline health care workers and long-term care facility residents. State health offficials said Monday that 25 to 30% have received the shot so far.

“Last week we had more requests for vaccine from our vaccinators to immunize our Phase 1A workers than we had vaccines to send them, we need more vaccine,” said Willems Van Dijk.

The state will start Phase 1B on Jan. 18 to vaccinate police, fire personnel, EMS and unaffiliated health care providers. 

“We will soon reach the point where we will have vaccinated the majority of people in 1A who want a vaccine, our goal is to never stop vaccinating," she said.

Willems Van Dijk told reports the state currently receives about 70,000 doses per week for new patients. But they need a total of 125,000 doses per week in order to help meet President-elect Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 1 million people per day nationwide. 

“Even at a million doses a day we have 330 million people in the country, that's going to take a whole year,” she said. “I think we need to up the pace even more than that.”

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