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Walz asks for patience in vaccine rollout

The governor says COVID-19 vaccine supply will become more predictable and reliable in coming months, but he understands people are anxiously awaiting shots.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota will now get three weeks advance notice of how many COVID-19 vaccine doses head our way, something that will make it easier for health providers and state contractors to schedule vaccinations.  

As Gov. Tim Walz sees it, that's a hopeful sign that the vaccine supply will be more predictable and reliable than it was when the federal government announced our state's allotment just four days before it was shipped.

He said with 100,000 more doses expected to arrive in the coming weeks, the state will be able to make a lot of headway getting the 65-plus age group vaccinated. But Walz is asking all Minnesotans to be patient because the demand for the vaccine far exceeds the supply at this point.

"The issue still comes down to, we’ve got more people who want this vaccine and need it than we have the vaccine, and we want to make it as easy as possible to get it," Walz told reporters.

"As I tell my team, I need to be able to tell Minnesotans approximately when they’re going to get the vaccine and most likely where they’re going to get the vaccine."

Walz made his remarks Thursday afternoon after touring the Earl Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, one of nine locations across the state taking part in the state's pilot vaccination program. The governor spoke to residents getting shots and thanked the medical professionals who were giving the shots, and Minnesota National Guard members who were there assisting.

Those state-operated vaccination hubs have drawn a lot of interest. On Thursday, those pilot clinics across the state gave 6,000 Minnesotans their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Minnesota Dept. of Health.

Still, the applications far outstrip the number of appointments available. But Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says over the long run most Minnesotans will get their vaccinations from health providers in their local communities.

"The intent is push most of the vaccine out into the community delivery system, the clinics, the community pharmacies," Commissioner Malcolm told reporters.

"We’re just going to evaluate the role these kind of state sites play, how many of them should there be, what should be the schedule for that. But the main vehicle for delivering vaccine is going to be our clinics and our community pharmacies."

Those who were in line at the Brooklyn Center clinic had secured appointments through an online portal operated by a company contracting with the state. When the online signups began the appointments were granted on a first-come, first basis. That changed last week to a random lottery.

"There were 226,000 people looking for what basically turned out to be about 9,000 slots," Walz said.

"My mother-in-law did not get in. The lieutenant governor's mom did not get in, and my mom down in Nebraska has not gotten in. So, it's not just endemic to that. I'm in the mother-in-law doghouse, if you will."

See: Minnesota Department of Health vaccine data dashboard

Malcolm said there are 400 health providers across the state who have received or will soon be receiving doses to administer to their patients. She acknowledged there have been reports of people jumping the line, so to speak, getting vaccinated even though they're under 64 and aren't in any of the priority groups.

"We definitely appreciate that there is so much eagerness to get vaccine, and people are feeling all kinds of excitement about that and anxiety about when they will get it. We really do need Minnesotans to understand that we do need to pay attention to priorities."

In addition to the nine pilot sites, the Dept. of Health is running a popup vaccination clinic for teachers and childcare providers at Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Slots were limited for that event and sign up was handled through school administrators. 

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