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Minnesotans received emails canceling COVID vaccine in error

January 30, 2021 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Some Minnesotans enrolled in the state’s pilot COVID-19 vaccination program received emails and text messages on Saturday that erroneously told them their appointments were unauthorized and invalid.

State health officials said nearly everyone who received the message was later notified it was a mistake and that their appointments were confirmed.

The original messages came from the state’s outside vendor, Primary Bio, and were intended for only about 20 people who were ineligible to register for vaccines in the first place, the Minnesota Department of Health said. The state said Primary Bio “has taken full responsibility and has apologized to the State of Minnesota and all Minnesotans impacted.”

Numerous people contacted local news outlets to tell them about the first message. In many cases, those who got the erroneous message had already received their first vaccine doses and had scheduled appointments for their second.

The emails came from Primary, which says on its website that Primary.Health is the engine behind COVID-19 testing and vaccination programs. The company did not immediately respond to emails sent by The Associated Press.

Minnesota health officials announced 19 deaths and 1,087 new confirmed cases Saturday, pushing the state’s pandemic totals to 6,187 deaths and 460,819 cases.

As of data reported Thursday, more than 380,000 people in Minnesota have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 105,000 receiving the full two-dose series.

Meanwhile, some independent health care providers in Minnesota say they are still waiting to receive the COVID-19 vaccine even though they are in the state’s high priority group for inoculation.

Carmelo Cinqueonce, executive director of the Minnesota Dental Association, told the Star Tribune that some clinics that are not part of the state’s large health systems feel the independent practitioners were overlooked. Chiropractors, physical therapists, primary care and specialty physicians are also among the providers who have seen delays.

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The Minnesota Department of Health said local public health agencies made a big push to contact unvaccinated providers this week and that vaccines will be allocated for them.

The state’s hub-and-spoke vaccination model was rooted in the large health systems. The Mayo Clinic said state health officials did not provide direction about sending vaccines to clinics outside of its orbit.

“The question and the guidance on who was responsible for the unaffiliated health care providers in the community was never clarified until essentially the last week,” said Dr. Abinash Virk, who is coleading Mayo’s vaccine distribution response. “We made a decision last week that we will allocate some of our doses.”