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Getting better at vaccinating

Minnesota made a big jump in the rate of vaccinations recently. On Monday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Minnesota jumped from 45th place to 14th in the nation in the rate of doses administered per 100,000 population.

That’s good news. At least 569,164 Minnesotans have received one vaccination, and 162,132 have completed the two-shot series. That still leaves a lot of people waiting for the vaccine, but the state announced it was diverting some 8,000 doses to pharmacies to get more people vaccinated.

There are still problems, most caused by the short supply of vaccines relative to demand. Figuring out how to get the limited supply most equitably to the most people has also been a problem.

Last week, the Minnesota Hospital Association sent a letter to the state criticizing the state’s switch from regional distribution to a lottery system. Rural hospitals who lost out on the lottery were forced to tell their patients they couldn’t vaccinate them, and they weren’t able to plan for the future if they didn’t know how much vaccine they would get and when it might arrive. The state is already switching back to a regional distribution system.

The better rate of vaccinations is coming at a time when the infection rate is declining in the state, and the rate of positive test results is down from 14% in November to around 4% at the end of January. This is good news, but now is not a time to get complacent or to relax the precautions we are all taking to keep the disease from spreading. Please continue to wear face masks in public, maintain social distance, wash hands frequently and stay home if you’re feeling sick.

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