Gov. Tim Walz has said the state will set stricter deadlines by which healthcare providers must use up their COVID-19 vaccines, or face receiving less in the future.
Amid concerns raised that Minnesota is not administering its vaccines as quickly as other states, Walz announced a new effort to "jump-start" the vaccine rollout.
Under the plan, vaccine providers must administer 90% of their available doses within 3 days of receiving them, and all doses within a week. Any that fail to do this are being told they "should anticipate potential changes to their vaccine allocations."
Earlier Monday, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and MDH infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said Minnesota has vaccinated fewer people than other states primarily because it's ordering its 2nd doses in advance and holding them in reserve, as well as because it has a disproportionately large healthcare worker and long-term care population, who have been prioritized for the vaccine thus far.
But Walz claims that state data released Monday shows there have also been lags in the administration among some providers, with the governor's office saying this allegedly includes "national chain pharmacies engaged by the Trump Administration," who have been charged with delivering vaccines in long-term care facilities. These include the likes of CVS and Walgreens.
Minnesota loosened its vaccine guidelines in mid-January to open up availability to over-65s, education, and childcare workers.
But there remains a limited supply and huge demand, with Gov. Walz re-iterating his call for what is now the Biden Administration to drastically increase its vaccine availability and distribution.
“We simply can’t wait any longer, we have to do more,” Walz said. “Today, I’m taking action and setting targets that will speed access to the limited vaccine we do have. These actions won’t make more vaccine appear out of thin air, but we’re going to get what we do have to Minnesotans as quickly as possible.”
Earlier on Monday, Walz's office announced changes to the community vaccination pilot programs open to the over-65s and school workers.
Unlike last week's "first-come, first served" process that overloaded the state's website, the new system will allow eligible people to pre-register for an appointment, with a random draw then picking out who will get an appointment based on the limited supply the state will have available each week. You can find more on that here.
He also announced that the state will hold a mass vaccination event at the Xcel Energy Center at the end of January, which will see 15,000 education and childcare providers vaccinated over five days.