3-2 COVID-19 Update: MDH Releases New Guidance Document for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
3-2 COVID-19 Vaccines Update from Minnesota Department of Health
The Minnesota Department of Health held a conference call Tuesday to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19 vaccines, variants and testing.
You can watch the full briefing here.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- In Minnesota, 485,655 total confirmed cases (up 443 on testing volume of just under 11,000)
- In Minnesota, 6,490 total deaths (up 4)
- 7-day rolling average case rate in Minnesota is 3.5%, lowest case rate since June 21
- New head of CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, “very concerned” with shift in case trajectory nationally. 7-day average has increased nationally for both cases and deaths.
Latest on COVID-19 Vaccines
- 1.38 million vaccine doses administered as of March 2 (up 20% since Wednesday, Feb. 24)
- 454,881 people age 65+ have received at least one-dose of vaccine
- This tally is 50% of Minnesotans who received at least one dose
- Goal is to have 70% of Minnesota seniors to receive one dose of vaccine by end of March (currently at 53%)
- Next phases of vaccinations will include adults with underlying medical conditions, such as sickle cell disease, Down syndrome, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
- MDH published new guidance document Tuesday for allocating and prioritizing COVID-19 vaccine.
- One notable change from Governor Walz’s announcement last week: Type 1 diabetes is added to list of qualifying conditions.
- Public health workers and judicial system workers also added to third tier of Phase 1b.
MDH Director of Infectious Disease Kris Ehresmann:
- FDA approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Saturday for anyone age 18 and older. The one-dose vaccine viewed as a “gamechanger.”
- “This vaccine is safe and virtually 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and death for people 18 and over,” said Ehresmann.
- The storage requirements are less stringent compared to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures.
- Also shown some protection against variants, like ones first discovered in Brazil and South Africa.
- Initial allocation is 45,200 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be received this week. Future weekly allocations are uncertain, but outlook is promising, said Ehresmann.
MDH Director of Office of Health Facility Complaints Lindsey Krueger:
- Visitations returning to long-term care (LTC) facilities due to cases dropping and increased vaccinations. (96% of facilities in Minnesota able to allow visitors)
- “We need to acknowledge the incredible work that has gone on in recent months,” said Krueger about the efforts at LTC facilities.
- Minnesota is 45th nationally in resident cases per 1,000 residents at LTC facilities, said Krueger. (High number for ranking good, low ranking number bad). Minnesota is average 0.76 cases per 1,000 residents.
- 84% of nursing home residents and 89% of assisted living residents have received first dose of vaccine. (69% of nursing home residents received second dose; 53% for assisted living)
Q&A Session and Notes:
- What will Johnson & Johnson vaccine mean for timeline offered by MDH last week? “We have every hope that we may be able to accelerate those timelines,” said Malcolm. Still on pace to have 70% of seniors receive at least one dose by end of March.
- “The fact that less than a year later, here we are here, with three safe and effective vaccines is just an incredible scientific accomplishment,” said Malcolm. Minnesota confirmed the state’s first case on March 6, 2020.
- “All the vaccines will be available for everyone,” said Ehresmann. She notes that you should take the one available to you. Ehresmann says deferring to a different vaccine will put you back in line and will have to wait longer.
- Latest on variants: CDC is projecting some variants on the rise, raising concern about the possibility of a surge in cases nationally. “The faster we get people immunized, the more we stay ahead of these variants,” said Malcolm.
- MDH lab detected 112 cases of B.1.1.7 variant (first discovered in United Kingdom) and 2 cases of P. 1 variant (first identified in Brazil and Japan)