The slower than anticipated rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, delayed deliveries, receiving fewer doses than expected and difficulty scheduling vaccination appointments, has led to frustration for many. As your trusted healthcare providers, our goal is to vaccinate everyone in the community as quickly as possible.

Decisions about our vaccination process are based on the information we receive from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). As their distribution models change, our plans and processes are adjusted to best accommodate vaccine distribution for our patients and community. Understandably, this has caused frustration for our patients.

When a facility receives a vaccine allocation, MDH requires that 90 percent of the doses must be used within 72 hours and 100 percent within seven days. This requirement does not allow any facility to hold onto the vaccine to be used specifically for second doses. If doses are not used within that timeframe, they can be taken back by the state and used elsewhere. Essentially, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

As we reach the first round of second doses, we will need to inform some patients that they will not get their second dose within the prescribed time frame of 21 or 28 days. While we did receive an allotment of vaccine, it was not enough to cover everyone. Each of our facilities plans to communicate directly with the patients impacted by the delay in receiving their dose. To set expectations throughout the vaccination process, we informed patients during their first dose appointment that we cannot guarantee them a second dose. However, we continue to advocate for doses on their behalf.

When we receive another allocation of the vaccine, patients needing their second dose will be prioritized in the order they received their first dose. Our teams will speak directly with each patient to schedule their second dose when that time arrives.

While potentially worrisome, health experts across the county agree there’s no cause for concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that patients can receive their second dose up to six weeks (42 days) after their first dose.

While we share in the frustration and confusion of the COVID-19 vaccination process, we truly appreciate the patience and understanding of our patients and communities. We have been fortunate to provide a first dose of the vaccine to thousands of people and we look forward to continuing that process.

As always, our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our patients, staff, and the communities we are privileged to serve.

This article was submitted by CHI St. Gabriel’s Health, Crow Wing County Health Department, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Essentia Health, CHI St. Gabriel’s Health, Lakewood Health System, Riverwood Healthcare Center and Tri-County Healthcare Care.

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