Senate Committee updated on Minnesota vaccine rollout

Members of a Senate Health and Human Services Committee received updates on Minnesota’s early COVID-19 vaccine efforts Wednesday.

Some unaffiliated medical professionals expressed frustration that without a connection to an area hospital or healthcare system, frontline staff can’t get vaccinated.

"It should be based on the care we provide to an ailing community," said Christine Peterson, of Unifeye Vision Partners, who said she is hoping for a resolution to a "slow and chaotic" vaccine rollout.

Wednesday’s hearing came a day after Minnesota opened up public vaccination appointments for educators, childcare workers and those in the high-risk 65-plus category.

The website and phone lines were quickly overwhelmed as residents gobbled up all of the nearly 6,000 appointments spread out over nine vaccination sites.

The Department of health promised more availability as the state receives more of the vaccine in the weeks ahead.

"We agree that speed is certainly desirable, but highly contingent on the supply, of course, and we just know we’ll still be dealing with supply not meeting demand as we saw yesterday," said Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

"A little perspective, a year ago, we hadn’t had the first diagnosed case. Now we have four vaccines available," said Sen. Michelle Benson, of Ham Lake. "It should be considered a miracle."