Other Opinion: Can retail pharmacies get vaccinations moving?
The expansion of vaccine clinics has helped push Minnesota from 45th to 14th in the CDC's ranking of states by doses per capita.
After a series of fits and starts, distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine appears to be gaining steam.
Walmart and Thrifty White Pharmacy locations across the state are to receive 16,000 doses per week through the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program. An additional 8,000 doses were part of a one-time allocation to 40 Walgreens stores in the state.
And eligibility for the vaccine is expanding. Health care workers and long-term care residents received the vaccine first and were followed by those 75 and older and front-line workers such as police officers, teachers and utility workers. The state is now vaccinating educators, child care staff and anyone 65 and older. You can find more information and locate a vaccination site in your area by visiting https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine/ .
"The vaccine supply remains extremely limited, but we are developing a strong and reliable network of different ways Minnesotans can get vaccinated," Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. In addition to the retail pharmacies, the state has set up vaccination clinics in a number of cities, including one at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. Each provider manages its own schedules and appointments.
The expansion of vaccine clinics has helped push Minnesota from 45th to 14th in the CDC's ranking of states by doses per capita. But the raw numbers are disappointingly low.
Only 10.3% of Minnesotans have received at least one vaccine dose. A mere 2.9% have received both doses.
Access is limited by supply. Appointments are necessary, and the wait might be long. And those called to receive the vaccine can't share their eligibility notice with friends and family. They might be able to sign up for the shot, but will get turned away at the vaccination clinic, adding to the chaos of an already complicated distribution process.
"We are committed to meeting Minnesotans where they are and will continue to work relentlessly to give everyone access to the vaccine," Walz said.
Tapping into retail pharmacies should give the state's vaccination program a boost.
The slow movement of vaccine is maddening and the constantly changing guidelines can be frustrating, but we must be patient. In the meantime, wash your hands, stay home if you're sick, wear a mask and keep your distance from others.