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Walz reveals rollout plans for COVID-19 vaccine in Minnesota

Those most susceptible to the virus will be first in line, along with those who care for them.
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Note: This story will be updated as more information is released.

Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health has revealed plans for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Minnesota, which could start as soon as next week.

Those most susceptible for serious complications from the virus will be prioritized for the vaccine, along with those who care for them.

This means Minnesota's health care workers and long-term care residents will be prioritized, as per the recommendations of the federal government.

This is who will follow next in Phase 1 of the rollout, which will initially be prioritized solely for adults, with children having only recently been added to clinical trials.

It does appear as though those in education will be among the first group prioritized after health care workers and long-term care residents.

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The vaccines, developed by Moderna and Pfizer, will be shipped to hospitals and other "hubs" across the state, and they then will be distributed to smaller clinics.

The first Pfizer vaccine is expected to arrive next week, with Moderna vaccines following in the weeks after. They are both expected to get FDA approval on Thursday.

Patients require 2 doses of the vaccine, with doses for 183,400 patients expected to arrive by the end of the year.

Here are some slides from the governor's presentation:

There will be logistical challenges not least in terms of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires storage at 90 degrees below zero, but Walz says that test-runs in Minnesota have been conducted successfully in coordination with the federal government.

But Walz said that because of this, the Pfizer vaccine is more likely to be used in the Twin Cities – where it will be shipped to – while the Moderna vaccine will be used more prominently in greater Minnesota.

At the moment, the total number of Pfizer vaccines being made available to Minnesota after Week 1 – when 46,800 will be shipped – is unknown, coming amid reports that the federal government missed an opportunity to lock in more orders.

Walz also announced that the state will be making efforts to encourage trust in the vaccine, with Walz acknowledging that there are some people concerned that "the federal government didn't do what they needed to do" with regards to the development of vaccines, while others in general don't trust the vaccine.

To that end, Walz will hold a bipartisan press conferences with state legislators Tuesday afternoon aimed at finding ways to encourage people to get the vaccine. 

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"No corners were cut to get this and the FDA is finalizing the data to provide that," Walz said.

Minnesota Department of Health infectious diseases director Kris Ehresmann noted that the vaccines have gone through the same "rigorous" trial and testing procedures as any other vaccine.

The reason it's being rolled out so quickly is because the likes of Pfizer and Moderna started manufacturing it before it had been fully trialed and approved, so they're able distribute immediately upon approval.

Walz also cautioned people to be patient as the rollout happens, with the rollout likely to continue well into 2021, and asked that Minnesotans continue to take precautions such as wearing face masks, social distancing, hand washing, and limiting social gatherings.

Vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer have shown to be effective in more than 94% of cases based on the most recent trials, and the U.S. government is pushing ahead with a rollout in December.

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