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VACCINE EXPANSION: Rochester boasts large capacity while dealing with low supply

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Rochester resident receives first dose of COVID vaccine

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- By the end of January, Rochester health care professionals expect priority groups 1 and 2 of 1A will be vaccinated.

That still leaves 1A3 for February, all while a rollout plan for a more complicated group is prepared, 1B.

It was a complicated plan even before any obstacles arose.

"We're entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus," said President Joe Biden at his inauguration. "We must set aside politics and finally face the pandemic as one nation."

Biden wasted no time doing just that on his first full day in office.

"Our national strategy is comprehensive," the president said. "It's based on science, not politics. It's based on truth, not denial and it's detailed."

Rochester residents are hoping it means more vaccine doses coming to the Med City.

"We have a lot of capacity. We have the machinery, site, people, processes and procedures. What we don't have is the vaccine," said Dr. Melanie Swift, a Mayo Clinic physician.

Mayo has the capacity to vaccinate up to 50,000 people a week, yet the whole state of Minnesota is only receiving 60,000 a week.

Limited supply is not the only issue.

"Our deliveries are coming on a later day of the week each time," Dr. Swift said.

Priority group 1B is next in line for the vaccine. The group has been expanded, now including people 65 and older instead of just 75 years and up.

Dr. Swift is afraid for those who need it most, despite a new pilot vaccine site opening in Rochester Thursday.

"My concern is that those vulnerable people will have the hardest time accessing vaccine if it become a wide-open, competitive process.
Swift said. "We really have to readjust and think about how to do it equitably."

She warns not to believe anyone that claims they can move you up in line to receive the vaccine.

"No one can do that. Don't fall for it," Swift urges. "Please if you do hear anything like that, please report it to the Minnesota Department of Health."

Dr. Swift says Mayo Clinic here in Rochester is prepared to vaccinate non-patients that are eligible as well.

She says Mayo is scheduling around 1,700 appointments a week, much less than the 10,000 they could currently have capacity for if there was enough vaccine in supply.

Alex Tejada

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