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Winter storm forces vaccination delay for Carris Health in Willmar

Plans to begin vaccinating frontline workers in Willmar against COVID-19 on Wednesday are being delayed due to the approaching winter storm.

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Vials of the newly arrived COVID-19 vaccine at Carris Health in Willmar. Photo courtesy of Carris Health

WILLMAR — Carris Health is being forced to delay plans to begin vaccinating frontline workers against COVID-19 today due to the approaching winter storm, it announced Wednesday morning.

The vaccination team and some of the supplies were to come from out of town, and hazardous travel conditions are expected due to an expected blizzard conditions Wednesday.

Carris Health is rescheduling the vaccinations to start next week.

The vaccination of frontline workers is part of the effort to protect our most vulnerable who are exposed to the virus, Carris said in its original announcement of the vaccine's arrival.

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Scott Forby, Carris Health director of pharmacy, holds the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine in Willmar. Photo courtesy of Carris Health

The doses of the vaccine in Willmar will first be given to workers in the COVID areas at Carris Health - Rice Memorial Hospital. Carris Health will continue to vaccinate frontline workers in coming days.

The initial supply of the vaccine to the United States is limited. At this time, only frontline healthcare workers and long-term care residents will receive the vaccine as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of late last week, 46,800 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine had arrived in the state and been distributed to hub locations around the state.

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The COVID-19 vaccine that arrived this week in Willmar must be kept in a special, ultra-low temperature freezer. Carris Health will begin vaccinating frontline workers in Willmar. Photo courtesy of Carris Health

Last week, nearly 1,000 health care workers statewide were vaccinated, and the Minnesota Health Department said Wednesday the figures were approaching 3,000 health care workers vaccinated.

The state is expecting this week to receive 94,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Those doses will be delivered directly to providers to vaccinate long-term care residents and workers and also to local public health agencies, according to Kris Ehresmann, state director of infectious disease, who spoke Wednesday on a conference call.

The Moderna vaccine does not have the same requirement for ultracold storage that the Pfizer vaccine does, she said, and will thus be easier for sites to manage.

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