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Vaccine supplies continue to lag behind

By David Mayberry

A Mayo Clinic infectious disease expert said Thursday the regional health provider has the ability to vaccinate thousands more than they are now.

The supply of COVID-19 vaccines simply hasn’t been given to them to administer.

“We’re set up to vaccinate about 2,000 a day, or 10,000 a week,” said Dr. Abinash Virk in a call with reporters. “We could increase to 50,000 a week.”

Mayo will distribute all of its 3,235 doses made available this week.

The issue, nationwide, is the availability of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Virk said Mayo receives its doses from the Minnesota Department of Health, which receives it from the federal government.

“We have the capacity to dispense those vaccines,” Virk said. “We have the capacity to vaccinate people as soon as we receive more doses.”

Mayo and other providers are focusing on patients 80 and older. Officials say that the age group is most susceptible to COVID-related hospitalizations and death.

When supplies increase, Virk expects the age cut off to drop.

Other points from Thursday’s call:

• Patients 80 and older are receiving messages via Mayo’s online portal or phone calls to schedule vaccinations.

• Virk said Mayo officials have treated 10 people with “adverse reactions” to the vaccine, including anaphylactic shock and ringing of the ears.

• Virk noted the importance of a second dose of vaccine: “It improves immune response from 80 percent to more than 90 percent, and it significantly reduces the risk of severe COVID.”