Gov. Tim Walz has joined the governors of Wisconsin and Michigan in calling for the Trump Administration to urgent order more COVID-19 vaccines before the president leaves office.
The Washington Post reported Friday that the federal government's vaccine reserve has been exhausted, contradicting the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's promise earlier this week that the government would begin distributing the vaccines it was holding back to ensure those who had received their first vaccine dose could get a second.
Walz described this revelation as "egregious" on Friday, suggesting someone in the government should be prosecuted for lying to states about how many vaccine doses it had in reserve, with the news coming as a blow to efforts to boost vaccination numbers in the coming weeks.
While incoming president Joe Biden has vowed to use the Defense Production Act to ramp up vaccine manufacture once he takes office on Wednesday, Walz, Michigan's Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Wisconsin's Gov. Tony Evers have asked the Trump Administration to take action now to buy more doses.
“It has become abundantly clear that not only has the Trump administration botched the rollout of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, but also that the American people have been misled about these delays,” the governors said in the letter to Azar.
"Pfizer just announced that as of yesterday, they have millions of doses of the vaccine on hand and are waiting on addresses from the Trump administration so they can deliver the vaccine to states.
"If you are unable or unwilling to give us that supply, we urge you to grant permission for us to directly purchase vaccines so we may distribute them to the people of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota as quickly as possible."
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.