First COVID-19 vaccine shipments arrive in Minnesota

Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP, Pool The Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Minnesota the morning of Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, with 2925 doses delivered to the Minneapolis VA Hospital. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz was there to greet the FedEx truck as it arrived.

“This is an exciting day for Minnesota,” said Governor Tim Walz. “The first vaccines are here. They are safe, and they will be ready to go soon. The sun is coming up, Minnesota.”

Walz visited the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center Monday morning to greet the very first shipment’s arrival in Minnesota.  The first COVID-19 vaccine shipments arrived in Minnesota at four sites across the state: Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, Olmsted Medical Center, and Cass Lake Indian Health Services. 

“With these first shipments, we will soon begin vaccinating thousands of health care workers and the most critically at-risk Minnesotans,” Governor Walz continued. “All Minnesotans will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine in time, but until then, we need to stay safe and keep up the fight.”

Throughout the week, Minnesota is expected to receive a total of 46,800 units of vaccine across the statewide regional vaccine distribution hubs. From there, the vaccine will be distributed to smaller hospitals or clinics, and providers will then administer the vaccine to Minnesotans, starting by protecting life and health of those most susceptible to serious complications and those who care for them.

Map

Description automatically generated

“Because of thoughtful planning by experts who have been doing this work for years, Minnesota is ready to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. We are focusing on maximizing impact, equity, and transparency, so that Minnesotans can be confident in the safe distribution of the vaccine,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan.

It will be several months before the average Minnesotan will be able to be vaccinated, but we will get there,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “These first vaccine deliveries are one small but very important step in the right direction. In the meantime, we must be patient and absolutely must continue to take those measures that keep all Minnesotans safe: wear a mask when in public, maintain social distancing, get tested, and properly isolate and quarantine when needed.”  

Department of Health staff will train providers on protocols and procedures for administering the vaccine this week, with most vaccinations expected to begin next week, December 21. 

“While we have hundreds of experienced nurses and vaccine providers in the state, this vaccine is new and complex and vaccinating thousands of people in a short time is a massive undertaking, so the training is critical to ensure vaccines are administered according to protocols,” said Kristen Ehresmann, director of infectious disease for the Minnesota Department of Health. 

The first group to be vaccinated in phase 1 will include health care workers and long-term care residents. The priority groups for phase 1b and 1c have yet to be determined but may include essential workers and older adults.   

For more on Minnesota plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, visit: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/vaccine.html.