On Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz and the state’s top health leaders gave some insight as to how Minnesota will begin the process of vaccinating residents for COVID-19, which is expected to begin later this month.
However, many residents who want to get the vaccine will likely have to wait months to get their opportunity to get the vaccine, as priority has been given to specific groups of Minnesotans.
A decision from the Food & Drug Administration on the vaccine created by Pfizer is expected tomorrow (December 10) and a decision on the vaccine created by Moderna is expected to be voted on Thursday, December 17. The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to come to Minnesota the week of December 14.
Both vaccines will be sent to 25 “hub” facilities throughout the state. All are equipped with the extremely cold freezers required to house the Pfizer vaccine. Minnesota is expected to get 183,400 doses of vaccine and they will be given (the first of two doses that will be part of the vaccination process) to those viewed as priorities.
The Minnesota Department of Health’s Director of Infectious Disease Kris Ehresmann said that a game plan is in place that determines who will be the first to receive the vaccine.
“In the first priority group for Phase 1A, we focused on people who have more direct contact with individuals who have COVID-19,” Ehresmann said. “That is staff that may be working in COVID units of hospitals, staff working skilled nursing facilities, certain emergency medical services personnel, individuals who are doing testing for COVID and community vaccinators.”
The top priority residents have been broken down into three sub-groups. The first group (1A) will include health care personnel and long-term care residents. The second group in line (1B) include essential workers – education sector, food and agriculture employees, utility workers, firefighters, corrections officers and transportation employees. The third sub-group (1C) are adults with high-risk medical conditions and those age 65 and over.
The first group alone will go through the initial supply of the vaccine, since there are going to be 183,000 available doses and approximately 500,000 care workers, emergency personnel, long-term care facility residents and others identified in the priority population.
It is believed that it will take six weeks from the first vaccination to get protection from COVID-19 and those who get the first inoculation will require a second shot one month later, which will push those who are not in a priority groups farther back in the line to get their vaccine shots.
Ehresmann estimated that it will take several months to get everyone immunized in Minnesota that wants the vaccine (the population of the state is 5.7 million, so it will take time to get to everyone). There are currently two different vaccines that will start being used, but Walz said Tuesday that a third vaccine could be ready as early as January that would only require one shot.
As people get vaccinated, they will be given a card that verifies that they received the inoculation.
In a year that has been marked by unprecedented steps taken to limit the death toll of the coronavirus, it would appear as though there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the arrival of the vaccines. But, it will take time for enough vaccines to be available for Minnesotans, so patience and vigilance are being requested.