A furious Gov. Tim Walz slammed the federal government after a report by The Washington Post claimed that the so-called "reserve" of COVID-19 vaccines being held back for second doses doesn't actually exist.
The Washington Post report released Friday says that despite Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announcing earlier this week that the government would begin releasing vaccines it had held back for second shots, these doses had actually been sent out starting in early December and none remain in reserve.
While this report has yet to be officially confirmed by the government, it sparked anger from Gov. Tim Walz at a Friday press conference, describing it as "egregious," a "catastrophe," and said it's "unimaginable" that states have been lied to.
"Where'd they go? Who's going to be prosecuted for this?" he said.
In a tweet, Walz added: "This is appalling. Minnesotans are sick of false promises from the Trump Administration. After promising a surge of doses, the Administration is now pulling out the rug from under our seniors, teachers, and every Minnesotan eagerly awaiting the vaccine."
Walz had been among the governors encouraging the Trump Administration to release its vaccine reserves so as many people can receive their 1st dose of the vaccine as possible, with the incoming Biden Administration indicating it would do this once the new president is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
But now, as the WaPo reports, states and health systems that had been expecting their incoming vaccines to double next week are "confronting the reality that their allocations will remain largely flat."
What's more, with the supply of vaccines still limited, Walz now worries that some of those who have already had their first dose will not get their second dose on time, saying he's "not sleeping" out of concern that this will happen.
Minnesota has been promised more than 624,000 vaccine doses by the CDC, of which just over 404,000 have been received by providers in the state.
But there have been logistical and administrative challenges with getting people vaccinated in a timely manner, with MPR reporting that among the identified problems are regulations governing who is able to give the shots.
Meanwhile, the Star Tribune reported Thursday that in long-term care facilities between 30-60% of staff members eligible to receive the shot are refusing it for now, citing concerns about side effects.
On Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Health announced that providers will now be allowed to vaccinate those aged 65 and older. Until now, vaccines have been earmarked for healthcare workers and long-term care residents.
However, this announcement was made before The Washington Post report revealed a lack of vaccine reserves. It's unclear if this changes the guidance, with MDH telling Bring Me The News that more details on the updated guidance should be released Saturday.