Senate GOP asks Walz to turn COVID-19 test sites into vaccine clinics, but supply is short

The Republican president of the Minnesota Senate is asking Gov. Tim Walz to turn COVID-19 testing sites into vaccine clinics to get doses to a broader population, but a shortage of supplies will complicate the task.

"Ensuring the health and safety of front-line workers, the elderly population, and individuals at high risk, as well as eventual access for all Minnesotans, is key to regaining some normalcy," Senate President Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, wrote to Walz.

But Walz said Tuesday that the Trump administration's call to vaccinate everyone 65 years of age and older and at-risk younger adults will be "absolutely hampered" by a lack of vaccines getting to states.

"In the state of Minnesota, that’s 1.6 million people. We’re getting 60,000 doses next week. I’ll let you do the math," Walz told reporters.

When asked about other states opening up stadiums as mass vaccination sites, Walz suggested those states are doing so for "optics" and would have to turn people away when their supply runs out.

He said Minnesota will set up clinics as vaccine production and distribution ramps up. The Minnesota National Guard could be involved in the effort, Walz said.

As of Tuesday, 162,240 people had been vaccinated in Minnesota, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Minnesota has focused entirely on vaccinating health care workers and long-term care residents so far. A total of 500,000 people are estimated to be in those groups.