Minnesota was expecting to receive enough vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna to vaccinate 183,000 people by the end of December, but that level of vaccination may not be possible because the federal government has apparently shorted Minnesota what it was promised.
Speaking Friday morning on WCCO Radio, Gov. Tim Walz said he's hoping the smaller shipment is a temporary issue that gets resolved quickly.
"We too were shorted what we were told on this," said Walz, who a week ago informed Minnesotans that by the end of December the state would receive 136,600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 46,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
"We were hesitant to put out numbers because we were afraid of putting them out and then changing, and they did change," said Walz. "We got about 40% less."
The first vaccines were shipped to Minnesota earlier this week. Based on the 40% projection, that means the state was shorted about 18,700 of the 46,800 doses that were expected the first week.
"I can assure Minnesota we've done our work. We were the model for the rest of the country. We just need those to arrive and we'll get them in folks' arms. We should know more in a week or so," said Walz.
"This just might be the early hiccups, I certainly hope that's the case. But it doesn't encourage me when Pfizer tells us they have vaccines in a warehouse, those need to get out. We're ready. The minute they hit the ground here in Minnesota, within 24 hours or so we can have them in folks' arms and start moving back towards getting this thing righted."
The issue isn't Minnesota's alone. NDTV reports that Pfizer has had production challenges and will ship approximately 2 million vaccine doses nationally next week, which is 900,000 fewer than it expected to come through with.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told NDTV that Pfizer "ended up coming short by half of what they thought they'd be able to produce and what they'd announced they'd be able to produce" in 2020.
The FDA also said this week that the Pfizer vaccine vials actually contain more doses than was previously thought. The Minnesota Department of Health told BMTN that at this time it's "not clear ... exactly how much more, but the amount does not appear to be great," saying it may perhaps provide one extra dose.
"The FDA and CDC are aware of the situation and are looking into it, but have not provided any official guidance yet," MDH said. "We have made partners aware of the situation and we will provide further guidance when we have more information from either FDA or CDC."