MINNEAPOLIS — The first doses of the single-shot vaccine for COVID-19 developed by pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson arrived in Minnesota on Wednesday, March 3, and could be put to use by the end of the week.
The 45,000 dose of the vaccine supplied to Minnesota will be available at select pharmacies and state-run clinics in the coming days, state officials said Wednesday. They come atop the larger weekly shipments of more readily available vaccines developed by drug makers Pfizer and Moderna, which require two doses in order to be fully effective.
Among the first places to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Minnesota will be the M Health Fairview office just east of Minneapolis' Dinkytown neighborhood, which according to pharmacy director John Pastor is the planned site of a "soft launch."
"We're planning at this point right now to hopefully start Friday afternoon," Pastor said at a news conference there Wednesday.
The arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is fully effective after only one dose, brings with it the promise of a more rapid inoculation campaign and represents another step toward the vanquishing of the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tim Walz's office had already estimated that 70% of older adults in Minnesota — who along with health care workers, nursing home residents, teachers, school employees and child care workers have had priority access to the vaccine — would be fully immunized by the end of March regardless of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine's approval.
That approval was handed down by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the weekend, clearing the way for the one-shot vaccine to be distributed nationwide. Once Minnesota meets the 70% benchmark for residents ages 65 and older, access to the vaccine will be extended to residents with certain health conditions or who work food processing or other industrial settings.
By this summer, the 300,000 or so Minnesota residents who do not have underlying health conditions and who do not work in settings with a high risk of COVID-19 exposure should have access to the vaccine, the governor's office has said.
Walz toured the M Health Fairview office in Minneapolis Wednesday, taking time to thank workers there and encourage Minnesotans to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity to do so. His comments came as some vaccine providers outside of the Twin Cities metro area reported lower volumes of appointment sign-ups than had been observed in recent weeks.
Walz said his office and the Minnesota Department of Health was aware of the sign-up slowdown and said it could be attributed partially to "vaccine hesitancy." Some residents may be choosing not to get the vaccine because they are skeptical of its safety, he said, while others may be deferring their vaccination in hopes of conserving dosages for more vulnerable Minnesotans.
"I was actually in contact with a small hospital provider who said his waiting list his zero," Walz said Wednesday.
Health officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stressed repeatedly that the vaccines are safe and effective, as was demonstrated by thousands of participants in clinical trials.
Following are the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 case rates, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations as of Wednesday, March 3. Because all data is preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.
Statewide case rates
- NEW CASES: 788
SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE OF NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 13.6 (as of Monday, Feb. 22)
- TOTAL CASES: 486,434
- TOTAL RECOVERED: 473,252
SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE TEST POSITIVITY RATE: 3.5% (as of Monday, Feb. 22)
- ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 243
- TOTAL HOSPITALIZATIONS: 25,863
- DEATHS, NEWLY REPORTED: 17
- TOTAL DEATHS: 6,507
FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 928,963 people, or 16.7% of the state population.
COMPLETED SERIES (2 doses): 484,383, or 8.7% of the state population.
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