Klobuchar, U of M researchers, urge a coordinated national effort to distribute COVID-19 vaccine

U internal medicine professor says the nation has come through by working together
Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U professor Ana Nunez
Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U internal medicine professor Ana Nunez

University of Minnesota internal medicine professor Ana Nunez is calling on the federal government to once again step up in a time of crisis.

“When I was a little kid growing up, I learned that I lived in a country where we actually did the impossible, we came together and invented unimaginable things, and we did that together,” said Nunez when it comes to storing and distributing coronavirus vaccines that appear all but ready to roll out before the end of the year.

“This is our time to get it right. It is our responsibility for challenges in rural communities, for people of color, for those who live in urban settings, the elderly, the disabled,” she said.

Nunez said what’s needed are resources, logistical plans, and protocols, as well as collaboration with local communities to determine distribution sites.

“Is the best place here a mobile van? Is the best place here in front of the big box store? Where does is make sense for our local communities?” she said.

Another major challenge is to find a way to store vaccines in an environment that makes a Minnesota winter feel like a summer day.

“It’s not what we want to hear today, but minus-103 for the Pfizer vaccine,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who joined Nunez Friday morning on the University of Minnesota campus. “As much as we’d like to put it in a snowbank, that’s not going to work.”

Klobuchar did say there are other challenges, such as coordinating between the outgoing administration and the one taking over on Jan. 20.

“It’s like if we were in the middle of a war, you don’t just leave the other team that’s replacing the other soldiers behind,” she said. “They’ve got to get all the information and the equipment, and in this case, the staff that they need to be able to do their job. Literally, it is the best way to save lives.”

Klobuchar said the Trump administration was able on Thursday to brief her and other senators on the vaccines that may soon be available.

“I just wanted people to have this hope as we go through the holiday,” said Klobuchar. “I mean, we couldn’t have a better Christmas present than knowing this vaccine is coming our way.”