The community vaccination clinic held Tuesday at the civic center in downtown Mankato was an impressively efficient operation, with more than a dozen people inoculated against the coronavirus every 15 minutes — some getting first doses of the Moderna vaccine, some their second.
Mankato is one of seven sites scattered across the state holding such an event weekly. One could be forgiven for watching the steady stream of people entering and leaving the building (all invited via the state’s Vaccine Connector program) and wish for more. More days. More sites.
But there isn’t enough vaccine. Gov. Tim Walz late last month opened up eligibility for vaccination to all Minnesota adults, and as many who have tried since to make an appointment have learned, demand still outstrips supply.
Meanwhile, as states (including Minnesota) continue to relax economic and social restrictions, virus variants are spreading rapidly. The positive test rate in Minnesota has breached the 5% benchmark. Here, as in the rest of the nation — indeed, the world — it is a race between the vaccines and the mutating virus. Every shot matters.
The federal government allots vaccines to the states on the basis of population. The states distribute and prioritize the vaccines differently, but all want more.
This week it was reported that 44 percent of new U.S. cases are in just five states: New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Those states are all well-populated, but they account for just 22 percent of the nation’s people. This has brought calls for more vaccine to be directed to those hot spot states.
But the need for vaccine isn’t limited to those states. Shipping a larger percentage of the vaccine to those states would effectively punish the states that have done a better job of controlling the spread — and increase the risk of those states having their own surges.
Minnesota’s own virus status is none too secure. It has based its plans and commitments — including a giant vaccination site at the state fairgrounds aimed at underserved communities that is expected to inoculate 100,000 people over the next eight weeks — on the current allotment system. Those plans should not be crimped because of the problems of other states.