Second COVID-19 vaccine

Sarah Schmidt, pharmacy manager for Thrifty White in Mankato, draws a syringe of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in February at Vista Prairie at Monarch Meadows assisted living in North Mankato. Some vaccine shipments slated for south-central Minnesota were delayed this week due to severe weather. 

MANKATO — The nasty cold snap gripping much of the country this week delayed COVID-19 vaccine shipments bound for the Mankato area, forcing some appointments to be postponed.

State health officials warned about the stalled deliveries earlier this week as severe weather elsewhere wreaked havoc on distribution channels. They expected about half of the 85,000 doses meant for Minnesota this week wouldn’t make it.

Community vaccine sites had to postpone some appointments because of it, including second doses slated for Friday in North Mankato. A notification system informed people their Friday appointments would be rescheduled once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed new delivery dates — Saturday and Sunday appointments in North Mankato were still expected to proceed as of late Friday.

A shipment of 700 doses for area clinics, hospitals or pharmacies also didn’t arrive as expected Tuesday.

The severe weather means it could take until Monday at the earliest for the doses to arrive, said Eric Weller, coordinator of the South Central Health Care Coalition.

“By end of the day today, we should have had all of this week’s allocation in arms,” he said on Friday. “But we don’t even have the vaccine.”

Next week’s allocation is supposed to bump up to 1,100 doses for the coalition. Now the hope is it’ll receive both week’s allotments next week for a total of 1,800.

The coalition oversees allocation to a group of 28 hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in the region. Bigger health systems and pharmacies receive vaccines through separate channels and could be experiencing similar delays.

Working out how to schedule appointments will be a challenge with two weeks of doses coming in and the timing still uncertain, Weller said.

“My guess is this will take us two to three weeks for us to get back on to the normal cadence,” he said.

The delays aren’t solely about doses, but also syringes and needles. Having vials doesn’t do any good without the supplies to administer them.

Mankato Clinic was one of the places expecting vaccine doses this week through the coalition. They didn’t arrive, so vaccination appointments are being rescheduled for later next week, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Andrew Lundquist in a statement.

“We are still watching the situation closely for further disruptions,” he stated. “At this time, our vaccine allocation is very limited. As we are notified of incoming vaccine, we are calling our patients to make a vaccine appointment, beginning with our oldest patients first. We thank everyone for their patience with this unexpected delay.”

Mayo Clinic Health System also plans to inform patients if the weather conditions cause shipping delays, according to a statement.

“Mayo Clinic has contingency plans in place to contact and reschedule patients if vaccination appointments are affected,” the statement read. “Patients with existing appointments who are not contacted to reschedule should assume their vaccination appointments have not been changed.”

Despite Mother Nature’s negative impact on this week’s supplies statewide, the health department reported about 40,000 new vaccinations Friday, pushing seven-day averages to the highest levels since early this month.

Minnesota also surpassed 1 million doses in arms Friday.

They add up to about 13.1% of the state receiving at least one dose. About 5.2% of residents have completed both doses.

South-central Minnesota continues to hover just below the statewide figures. About 12.6% of residents in the nine area counties have received first doses, and about 4.6% have received both doses.

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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