Gov Walz: ‘The end of COVID is out there’ with Vaccine Rollout Likely Next Week
If approved, the state would receive 46,800 shots from Pfizer by next week.
ST. PAUL, Minn.- Minnesota Governor Tim Walz unveiled the state’s plan for getting Minnesotans vaccinated against coronavirus, some as soon as the coming weeks.
“This day is real, it’s happening, it is really here. In Minnesota, we’re prepared for it,” said the Governor in a press conference Tuesday. “We are on the doorstep of starting this.”
According to the Minnesota Department of Health the FDA is set to approve a vaccine from Pfizer as soon as Thursday, and then one from Moderna a week later.
If approved, the state would receive 46,800 shots from Pfizer by next week. Moderna’s vaccines would bring the total from both companies to 183,400 by the end of the year.
“I know you’re all out there doing the math right now; 183,000 is not 5,695,000 like the people here in Minnesota. No,” the Governor said. “But it’s specifically targeted at healthcare workers and most vulnerable adults in long term care.”
The vaccine will go out in phases based on priority.
The first phase itself is broken into groups recommended by the CDC: A) Healthcare workers and long term care residents, B) Essential workers like police and firefighters and C) Adults 65+ and those with high-risk medical conditions.
“It’s important to keep in mind as well that this will continue to open up as more vaccine becomes available,” said MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann.
Pfizer’s vaccine will be stored in special cold storage units at 25 medical hubs across the state, to keep it at the required temperature of -80 degrees Celsius.
As for the Moderna vaccine, temperature isn’t an issue. It would go straight to vaccinators. “We’re making sure that we have a variety of different types of providers. So pharmacists, physicians, we’re looking at both clinics and hospital settings,” Ehresmann said.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said when the time comes, she envisions the city would provide the drug at many of the spaces already used for testing. “Which is at the DECC and also people could get it in their clinics and people could get it through the hospital testing stations,” she said.
“So a variety of ways that are efficient that people can be kind of filtered through for their risk factors,” said Larson.
But before all of that, healthcare workers come first.
At the Governor’s presser, a pediatrician explained why vaccinating doctors, nurses and others on the frontline eases their burden of taking care of people.
“By focusing on healthcare personnel we are able to have a multiplier effect,” Dr. Jill Amsberry said. “Protecting healthcare personnel will also be preserving healthcare capacity.”
While officials acknowledged the dates may change a little depending on how fast approval and distribution goes, they emphasized that the general public won’t get shots until well into 2021.
In the meantime, Governor Walz reminded people a vaccine (or the news of any) will not stop the pandemic overnight. Mask wearing, social distancing, and all the past guidelines will still remain important.
“The vaccine is a fire hose and it’s a pretty darn big one, but even at that the fire is so big it’s hard to put it out,” said the Governor. “Our job can be to shrink the fire by not getting it to spread and the vaccine will help us put it out.”
But, him and his MDH team said, it’s definitely the light at the end of the tunnel.
“The end of COVID is out there. It’s just gonna take some patience,” Walz said concluding his speech. “But Minnesotans, you’ve come this far.”