The local health organizations are dealing with delayed 2nd doses because the supply is insufficient

Kiehlbauch was sunk in grief after losing her husband to dementia complications last summer. It represented hope, said Kiehlbauch: A step towards ending the isolation that she believed contributed to her husband’s steep spiritual decline.

“People like my mother, 85, don’t understand why the vaccine is no longer available,” said Kiehlbauch, a former Lake District resident who now lives in Colorado, during a phone interview on Wednesday, February 10, the shot and it’s one Bright spot. I mean, it was like my mom was shot with cupcakes, unicorns, and rainbows. She just had an immediate turnaround and was excited about the future.

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“And then she got this text yesterday and it was like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t even know where to go with this conversation. ‘… She says things like,’ I’ll just be with your dad, I just don’t care. ‘”

Her mother – whose name was withheld at Kiehlbauch’s request – is one of a number of Minnesotans who recently learned that they have no choice but to wait longer than expected for the second dose of vaccine, delaying their full protective effects.

In response to their patients’ growing frustration with delays and ever-changing information about the availability and dispensing of vaccine doses, the heads of several health organizations in the Lake District issued a joint statement on Friday offering understanding and security.

Although “potentially worrying,” the statement said, delays in the second dose were given the updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which do not report loss of vaccine effectiveness, when patients up to six weeks or 42 Days waited, no cause for concern between the cans.

“While we share in the frustration and confusion of the COVID-19 vaccination process, we really appreciate the patience and understanding of our patients and communities,” the statement said. “We have been fortunate to provide a first dose of the vaccine to thousands of people and look forward to continuing this process. As always, our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our patients, staff and the communities we are served. ”

The statement signed by Essentia Health, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, CHI St. Gabriel’s Health, Lakewood Health System, Riverwood Healthcare Center, Tri-County Health Care, and Crow Wing County Public Health also attempted to explain why the delays occur because the Minnesota Department of Health requirements coincide with federal supplies that are below expectations.

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

“According to the MDH, when a facility receives a vaccine assignment, 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 retain the vaccine that can be specifically used for second doses. If doses are not used within this period, the state can withdraw them and use them elsewhere. If you don’t use it, you essentially lose it. “

Now, the statement said, an allocation of vaccines that was smaller than necessary forced them to tell some patients that their second dose was not within the 21-day or 28-day window, depending on whether they received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

“Each of our facilities plan to communicate directly with patients affected by the delay in taking their dose. In order to set expectations throughout the vaccination process, we informed patients during their first dose appointment that we could not guarantee them a second dose. However, we continue to advocate for cans on their behalf, ”it says. “… If we get another allocation of the vaccine, patients who need their second dose will be prioritized in the order in which they received their first dose. Our teams will speak directly to each patient to schedule the second dose when that time arrives. “

Kiehlbauch’s mother received her first dose at GuidePoint Pharmacy in Brainerd as one of more than 65 beneficiaries of an empty appointment while the company ran a vaccination clinic for educators and childcare workers. Mike Schwartzwald, co-owner of the pharmacy, said he thinks he would receive 61 bottles of vaccine this week – almost enough to supply the roughly 400 patients who need a second dose, with more expected in the coming week. Instead, Essentia Health, the vaccine site in the Lake District, was able to offer GuidePoint 16 vials – second doses for approximately 25% of GuidePoint’s vaccine patients.

“There is definitely a need that exceeds the supply at the moment,” said Schwartzwald on Wednesday. “That is definitely frustrating. We are also frustrated because we want more. Just like the clinics and the state wish they would get more from the federal government. There is no one who is satisfied with this situation.”

Dr. Peter Henry

Dr. Peter Henry

Dr. Peter Henry, chief medical officer of Essentia Health, said the second dose deficit is a problem that is expanding well beyond his organization to health systems across the state.

“I have asked the Minnesota Department of Health to inform them that national supply has been slower than expected and that the federal government has initially understood that second doses are being kept in reserve that we should use. The doses must be put in as quickly as possible bring as many Minnesotans as possible, ”Henry said during a video conference interview Thursday. “But over time that information would change to the point that those second doses were not kept in reserve. As a result, we now have a nationwide problem with the second doses, which are a little in deficit.”

Henry said between 5,000 and 6,000 patients should get their second dose across the Essentia Health system, and the majority of that would not be delayed. This is because Essentia is using the original first doses for other patients to meet needs after certain second doses were used in late January.

Henry said between 500 and 1,000 patients may have to wait longer than expected for a second dose, but they are working to reduce that number by postponing doses. However, he said there was no risk of the second dose being delayed beyond the six-week window of full effectiveness. The dose change also means it will likely be several weeks before Essentia can start offering first doses again, Henry said.

GuidePoint Pharmacy Friday February 12th in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Shipping

GuidePoint Pharmacy Friday February 12th in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Shipping

“I think the key here to whether or not you need to reschedule individuals is having knowledge two to three weeks in advance of your offering. The more stable the state, the smaller the fluctuations and fluctuations. Then you can also plan better, ”said Henry. “I mean, we as a health system are prepared to deliver a lot more vaccines than we are now, as are other health systems in the region and across the state. We can deliver far, far more doses than we have. And it’s about supply and Demand. “

RELATED: One in three Crow Wing Counties 65+ is at least partially vaccinated

Schwartzwald and Henry, along with spokesmen for the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center and the Lakewood Health System, pointed out a January 25 policy by Governor Tim Walz promoting accelerated vaccine distribution in the state whenever their approach changed. That day, Walz set goals for 72 hours and a week to encourage vaccines to get cans out the door – including a possible consequence if they don’t.

“If a provider does not meet its goals, it should expect possible changes to its vaccine assignments,” says the press release on the subject. “The policy for providers aims to make vaccination more efficient and allows flexibility in certain circumstances that reflects the spirit of the policy.”

Photo illustration

Photo illustration

Doug Schultz, Minnesota Department of Health Information Officer, was asked to respond to the burgeoning second dose shortage reported by local vaccines.

“For every first dose that is assigned to a provider, the federal government keeps a corresponding second dose in reserve, which can be ordered if necessary. Second doses are sometimes given to providers earlier than the required waiting time between doses, ”wrote Schultz. “If a provider does not have adequate second doses, it is likely that they have chosen to have more of their patients first dose with images that were intended as second doses for other patients. That would mean that the federal government does not keep a corresponding second dose in reserve. And in this situation there are simply no additional cans to refill. “

Schultz declined to comment when asked to respond to concerns that pressure to meet Walz’s goals contributed to the delays.

While new reasons to be frustrated with the vaccination process keep popping up, officials remain confident that the wrinkles will be smoothed out and the care will meet the need.

This week, Walmart partnered with Walgreens and Thrifty White pharmacies to distribute the vaccine directly to those currently eligible, including the Baxter site. Appointments for the next week were quickly assigned via the Big Box Store’s online appointment system.

President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that it would buy an additional 200 million doses to prevent a shortage later that year and aimed to vaccinate 300 million Americans by July. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine – a single-dose offering – will be reviewed later this month by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in response to the drug company’s request for emergency approval.

There are also reasons officials have been happy with elements of the vaccine distribution so far, starting with the fact that they are available as soon as they are available and in all versions are highly effective in preventing COVID-19, especially serious diseases.

Michelle Moritz, director of public health for Crow Wing County, told the county board Tuesday that she was proud of the way the community’s partners have worked together to effectively use the doses given so far. It was a collaborative effort, she said, in which large numbers of the county’s educators and childcare workers, as well as a third of the county’s 65+ year olds, received vaccines alongside the most vulnerable in community care and life.

However, for Kiehlbauch’s mother, others like her, and those who haven’t yet had the chance for the vaccine, that optimism does little to counter the immediate, overwhelming desire for more evidence of progress in ending the close impact of COVID-19 on their lives to satisfy.

“They did the right things, stayed in there and saw no friends. They go to the grocery store at dawn to dodge people and that’s all they do,” said Kiehlbauch. “And then they get the shot and it is a glimmer of hope. “

CHELSEY PERKINS can be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey.

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