Good things are happening. The British conducted their first COVID-19 vaccinations. Legislators received a detailed briefing from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDA) on Minnesota’s vaccine distribution plan Tuesday evening, after MDA’s initial public announcement earlier that day.
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee has recommended emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine. As I pen this update, FDA is reviewing the committee’s recommendation. Final FDA approval should come soon. Next week the advisory committee will make a recommendation on the Moderna vaccine.
Minnesota expects to receive the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine within 1-2 days after the FDA approval. Assuming no delay in approvals, by the end of December Minnesota is expected to receive enough vaccine to provide about 183,000 individuals with the first of the 2-shot protocol. Both vaccines require a booster shot at 3 to 4 weeks.
The vaccines will be shipped to 25 distribution hubs across Minnesota. The hubs will service about 118 additional spoke facilities that will be handling the vaccines. The vaccines are temperature sensitive, a successful test shipment with a temperature data logging device inside the package has already been conducted.
Assuming prompt FDA approval, Minnesota’s first vaccinations could begin sometime just before Christmas. Who and when individuals will get vaccinations will be based on risk factors. The first group will include selected healthcare workers and residents and individuals working in skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes. Visit https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/vaccine/phase1aguide.pdf for detailed information on MDA’s guide for allocating the vaccine. We are making good progress, but please this is not the time to relax precautions like masks, social distancing and hand washing that help to slow the spread of the virus.
Gov. Walz has called a special legislative session for Monday. That will automatically renew his emergency authority for another 30 days. As I mentioned last month in a news release when the governor imposed the current shut down, we can’t wait for the feds, we need to provide help to our main street businesses that have again been forced to close.
A relief package is being worked on with the goal of being ready for Monday’s special session. At this point it would include about $116 million in aid administered by the state and another $100 million that would be provided to the counties for distribution at the local level.