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COVID-19 VACCINE EXPANSION: Minnesota health officials are still waiting on guidance

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(KTTC) -- We are barely a month into the roll out of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, and it'll be a while yet before they're widely available. However, a move Wednesday from the Trump administration expanding vaccine access has Minnesota health officials scrambling.

In the state as of Wednesday, more than 146,000 people received at least one vaccine dose and nearly 8,000 have completed the vaccine series.

"The goal is to get more vaccines out more quickly," Minnesota Department of Health Director of Infectious Disease Kris Ehresmann said. The administration also wanted states to open up to 65 and older and persons 18 to 64 with underlying health conditions.

A goal to expand distribution is welcomed by many including Gov. Tim Walz. However, Ehresmann said there is nothing in writing about how it will be all done.

"We now have a lot more people who are going to be enthusiastic about vaccination and we don't know necessarily have more vaccine," Ehresmann said.

She added that 60,000 vaccine doses come to Minnesota weekly, but this week's allocation never arrived.

"The uncertainty is the future supply projection. We are not sure exactly how much vaccine we will get going forward and then we haven't really heard about how we are expected to manage second doses," Ehresmann said.

Health Department Commissioner Jan Malcolm also said it doesn't give much time to get through the 1A priority group before the expansion.

"How do you factor in essential workers who aren't included in the federal guidance. Even though that had been kind of the planning assumption that the CDC advisory group had been using," Malcolm said.

Adding to the concern, how the next presidential administration might change COVID-19 vaccine roll-out policy.

"So much missing information that we can't say much more than that," Ehresmann said.

With planning for the vaccine expansion now underway, both Malcolm and Ehresmann say they'll update us as they get more guidance from federal officials.

Ubah Ali

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