MDH COVID-19 briefing: Health officials discuss pace of vaccine rollout

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During the state’s regular scheduled COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Minnesota Department of Health officials discussed the coronavirus vaccine rollout in the state.

According to Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, MDH data shows more than 91,000 vaccines have been administered in the state, so far.

MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann said the department has heard concerns about the pace of vaccines being administered in the state.

Ehresmann said, for doses administered data, MDH is supposed to be notified with 24 hours of doses being administered. However, long-term care facilities and pharmacies have 72 hours to report data to MDH.

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Because of this, Ehresmann said there is a lag in data being reported. She said it is estimated that 120,000 have been administered as of Thursday morning.

“Shots are going into arms and there are aspects of this process that are out of our control,” Ehresmann said.

During the call, Ehresmann said most, if not all, Minnesotans in Phase 1A should have their first vaccine dose by the end of January.

With Gov. Tim Walz announcing new guidelines for indoor dining Wednesday, reporters asked the state officials if there is concern about relaxing dining regulations while a new variant of COVID-19 is being found in the country.

Malcolm said MDH is actively looking for the new variant in the state.

In regards to relaxed dining regulations, Malcolm said MDH and other state officials are “in a state of genuine optimism,” but noted they realize how quickly things can change.

Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove added that there is a desire among businesses in Minnesota to partner with the state to ensure bars and restaurants can remain open.

Malcolm also reiterated that while a vaccine is here, Minnesotans should still make good daily decisions in regard to masking, social distancing and following other guidelines.