Can't find a COVID booster shot? Blame the worker shortage

This week, Minnesota health officials launched a campaign encouraging people to get their COVID-19 booster shots in time for holiday gatherings later this month.

Just one problem: appointments are hard to find at Twin Cities-area pharmacies and other vaccination sites. At a community vaccination clinic at Century College in White Bear Lake -- where Gov. Tim Walz visited Thursday -- signs hung on the doors: "No more walk-ins available."

More than 1.3 million Minnesotans have already gotten a booster shot, or 38.3 percent of fully vaccinated people, ranking second in the country. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the problem was not a lack of shots but a shortage of workers to put them in people's arms. 

"The supply of the vaccines themselves are still very robust," Malcolm told reporters when asked about the frustrations. "What we’re running into quite honestly is the same workforce challenge that you’re hearing from our hospitals, our long-term care providers, public health. There’s a shortage of trained vaccinators."

Minnesota has asked for federal help with its vaccination efforts, she said, adding that people should check state and federal vaccine finder websites for availability near them.

On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer booster for teenagers ages 16 and 17. Adults have been eligible for weeks. Boosters are not yet available for younger children.