The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced major changes to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, which so far, has fallen well short of stated goals. The change comes at a time when the daily COVID-19 death toll sits at 3,200 nationwide.
The HHS said that they will grant Governor Tim Walz and eight other Democratic governors’ requests and release the millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that is currently being held back by the Trump Administration.
According to publicly reported information, the federal government currently has upwards of 50% of currently produced vaccines held back by the administration for reasons unknown.
“Minnesotans are ready for the COVID-19 vaccine—it is how we will crush this virus, save lives, and finally resume normalcy,” Governor Walz said.
“The COVID-19 vaccines don’t belong to the Trump Administration, they belong to the people. I was proud to join eight other governors to make this point and I am glad our request to release millions of doses of the vaccine across the country has been granted,” Walz continued.
“A promise to deliver isn’t delivering and we’ve learned to manage our expectations when it comes to federal government promises on vaccines,” added Walz. “Planning for vaccines to be more broadly available has been happening in Minnesota for months now. And we are ready to receive the vaccines and get them out. This announcement should bring more hope to all Minnesotans. We are closer to the end of this pandemic today than we were yesterday.”
Last week, Governors Tim Walz, Gretchen Whitmer (MI), Gavin Newsom (CA), Laura Kelly (KS), J.B. Pritzker (IL), Andrew Cuomo (NY), Tony Evers (WI), Jay Inslee (WA), and Kate Brown (OR) sent a letter to Secretary Azar and General Perna requesting that the federal government distribute the millions of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine doses that are currently not being used.
After the governors sent the letter, the incoming Biden Administration announced last week that they will release available vaccine doses that the Trump Administration has held back.
Further responding to the pressure to ramp up distribution, Operation Warp Speed officials stated on Tuesday that they are encouraging the states to expand the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to allow everyone age 65 and older, as well as those with comorbid conditions, like diabetes, to receive the vaccine. HHS Chief Alex Azar stated that the federal government will start assisting states in setting up mass vaccination sites.
The Minnesota Health Department recently launched a COVID-19 vaccine dashboard to track the state’s vaccination efforts. For more info, visit mn.gov/covid19/vaccine.
Information provided, in part, by the Office of Governor Tim Walz.