Minnesota will get fewer Pfizer vaccines than expected this month

Minnesota is among the states suddenly notified this week it will get significantly fewer Pfizer vaccines than expected in December

State health officials said next week's allocation from Pfizer has been cut by 44 percent, from 58,000 to 33,150.

Minnesota has vaccinated 947 front-line health care workers this week as doses rolled out across the country, but next week's cutback means Minnesota and several other states will not be able to vaccinate as many people as originally expected.

"When we get less vaccine than we were hoping, it means it’ll take us longer to vaccinate the key personnel in the first stage before we can move on to the second stage," said Kris Ehresmann, the state's infectious disease director.

For weeks, Pfizer's allotments have been a moving target. Minnesota has expected to get 104,800 doses from Pfizer this month in two allocations, 46,800 in the first allotment and another 58,000 next week.

The Minnesota Department of Health found out late Wednesday that next week's shipment was being cut to 33,150. Minnesota still expects to get this week's allocation of 46,800 by the end of the day on Friday, Ehresmann said.

"Pfizer has said the lesser amounts are due to 'manufacturing fluctuations,'" Schultz said in an email to FOX 9 on Thursday. "FDA and CDC are aware of the situation, and have said they are looking into the situation, but have not provided any official guidance yet."

Pfizer said in a statement Thursday that it's not experiencing any production issues and has millions of doses in warehouses waiting to be distributed across the country.

Gov. Tim Walz, speaking on WCCO Radio on Friday morning, said he was growing concerned with the federal government's ability to handle the vaccine rollout.

"This might just be the early hiccups. I certainly hope that’s the case," Walz said. "But it doesn’t encourage me when Pfizer tells us they have vaccines in a warehouse. Those need to get out. We're ready."

Minnesota has also been planning to get two allocations from Moderna, a second vaccine manufacturer that received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's advisory committee on Thursday. The FDA is now quickly reviewing Moderna's data and is likely to sign off this weekend.

Minnesota expects to receive 94,900 doses of Moderna's vaccine next week, a number that has not changed much since health officials first revealed it on Dec. 8.

Ehresmann said the state gets weekly updates from the federal government about its vaccine allocation totals, and they frequently change.

"It's just an incredibly fast-moving situation," she said.