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Some shipments of Moderna vaccine to Minnesota delayed

MINNEAPOLIS  — State health officials said Wednesday that a national delay in some shipments of the Moderna vaccine will hit some Minnesota providers, and blizzard conditions could further complicate the shipping glitch.

Minnesota infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said during a media briefing Wednesday that four providers across the state were notified of delays in shipments of the Moderna vaccine, which received emergency approval over the weekend. A winter storm expected to drop several inches of snow on the state may aggravate the situation, Ehresmann said.

State health officials are expecting to receive 94,800 doses in its initial shipment of the Moderna vaccine this week, with most of it arriving on Wednesday. A spokesman for the state health department said the four delayed orders are “very small in size” compared to the state’s total allotment.

Ehresmann said more than 11,500 healthcare workers across Minnesota have been vaccinated as of Tuesday morning. The state plans to distribute doses of the Moderna shipment and begin vaccinating staff and residents in long-term care facilities next week in the next step of their vaccination rollout, she said.

Minnesota long-term care facilities suffered tremendous losses due to COVID-19, with a majority of the state’s death toll of nearly 5,000 people consisting of residents of facilities around the state. State health officials placed residents and staff of the facilities first in line for the vaccine alongside healthcare workers.

CVS Health announced earlier this week that the pharmacy chain would begin its effort to help vaccinate more than 63,000 residents and staff of Minnesota long-term care facilities on Monday.

Minnesota on Wednesday reported 75 more people have died due to the coronavirus, and 1,513 new infections, putting the state at 4,971 deaths and 402,519 cases since the start of the pandemic.

According to The COVID Tracking Project, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Minnesota fell by more than half over the past two weeks. It’s now about 2,406 daily. Hospitalizations have fallen as well, with 228 people currently in intensive care after the number nearly reached 400 at the beginning of the month.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said health officials expect vaccination efforts to help drive case numbers down even further, but urged the public to continue to follow public health guidelines as more vaccine becomes available for the public in the coming months.

“As we’ve been saying, now is not the time to let down our guard,” Malcolm said. “These numbers have fallen because of what we’ve done and it’s important to keep paying attention.”