Updated: December 01, 2021 04:12 PM
Created: December 01, 2021 03:34 PM
Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that Minnesota will receive help from the federal government to bolster its COVID-19 vaccine rollout for children and increase the availability of monoclonal antibody treatments.
The governor requested personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help with the state's community vaccination clinic at Mall of America and administer monoclonal antibody treatments in central Minnesota. A total of 16 FEMA personnel will arrive in Minnesota this week, according to a news release.
“We have powerful tools at our disposal to fight COVID-19: getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and others from the virus, and treatments like monoclonal antibodies can help sick Minnesotans get better. To make sure more Minnesotans can access these life-saving vaccines and treatments, we requested and have received significant support from FEMA,” Walz said in a statement.
The FEMA team will boost vaccine capacity at Mall of America from 1,500 doses per day to 2,000 doses per day. The site is a hotspot for children ages 5-11 to get their shots as well as for adults seeking boosters. In the past month, 14,000 doses have been given to children between ages 5 and 11, and last week 800 booster shots were given to adults at the Mall of America clinic.
Last week, the Minnesota Department of Health expanded access to monoclonal antibody treatments, a method that can help patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms that started within the past 10 days or for those who are at high risk of hospitalization or death.
Extended hours and added capacity at the MDH clinic in St. Paul and extra appointment slots at M Health Fairview's Columbia Heights clinic boosted the Twin Cities' monoclonal antibody treatment capacity by 50%, according to the governor's office. The arrival of the FEMA team will expand access to the treatment in Greater Minnesota.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said monoclonal antibody treatments "are an important tool, but they are not a substitute for vaccination."
“We are working to ensure every Minnesotan has fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments," Malcolm said in a statement. "Capacity in our health care system is still very tight, so we are thankful for the support of these FEMA staff to help bolster our capacity. We also need all Minnesotans to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated and using the other layers of mitigation such as masking so that we have the health care capacity available to provide COVID-19 treatments to those who really need them.”
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