COVID-19 cases, vaccine demand on the rise, but shots still in limited supply
As the desire for the new COVID-19 vaccine increases, so does the community spread of the virus.
The shots rolling into towns across the state aren’t considered boosters; instead, they’re brand-new vaccines created to best defend against the dominant strains currently spreading through communities.
And while appointments are available at health care providers and pharmacies, they’re filling up fast with some health care systems reporting having limited availability of the vaccine.
That coincides with what’s being considered another surge of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota.
“What we have seen is a slow, steady increase over the last month that’s now spreading to other parts of the state,” said Dr. Tim Schacker, an infectious disease physician at the University of Minnesota.
Schacker’s team at the U of M and the Minnesota Department of Health are in charge of tracking community spread of COVID-19 through wastewater. Their data shows an 8.3% increase in viral load over the past week and a more than 35.8% increase over the past two weeks.
“We haven’t plateaued by any stretch of the imagination,” Schacker said. “I don’t think the peak will be as high, as in terms of wastewater levels, will be as high as we’ve seen in the past, but it’s clearly going up.”
In a statement surrounding the new vaccine’s availability, CVS Pharmacy wrote:
“We’re receiving updated COVID-19 vaccines from suppliers on a rolling basis. To determine if a specific location has appointments available, customers can utilize our digital scheduler at CVS.com and the CVS Pharmacy app which shows real-time availability.”
Hennepin Healthcare tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that it has a “limited supply but [is] expecting more next week.”
For now, Schacker feels it may be best to be cautious as he and his team continue to track this trend.
“[It] might be the time to rethink large gatherings for a while, [especially] if you’re a particular risk for complications of COVID,” he said.
Walgreens is also encouraging people to book appointments online, saying:
All of our stores now have the supply needed to meet patient demand in their communities. Additional appointments have been added to our scheduler and will continue to be made available at our sites nationwide based on supply.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an online tool for finding a location offering the COVID-19 vaccine.