Winter storms delay distribution of 6 million coronavirus vaccine doses

The bad winter weather has slowed the arrival of vaccine in all 50 states, according to Andy Slavitt, the White House’s senior adviser on the government’s response to covid-19.

Vaccine shippers — FedEx, UPS and the drug distributor McKesson — “have all faced challenges as workers have been snowed in and unable to get to work,” Slavitt said. Road closures in some areas have held up the delivery of vaccine. And more than 2,000 vaccination sites are in places where electricity was knocked out by the storms, so they have been unable to receive the vaccine.

Because the two vaccines allowed for emergency use — manufactured by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech and by Moderna — require various degrees of cold storage, it has been important not to risk vaccine arriving in places where scarce doses could be wasted because they could not be properly stored in the storms.

“The vaccines are sitting safe and sound in our factories and hubs,” Slavitt said.

The extent of the interruptions have been uneven, with some states announcing minimal disruption because they had vaccines in reserve and others struggling to reschedule appointments. But the problems spread beyond swaths of Texas, the southeast and the Midwest pummeled by snow and ice — because major distribution centers in Louisville and Memphis experienced bad weather.

That means places spared from punishing weather, like California, have paused vaccinations while waiting for supplies from hard-hit states. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) postponed more than 12,000 vaccinations at city-run sites scheduled Friday after two shipments of Moderna vaccines delayed because planes couldn’t fly in the weather. San Francisco Bay area jurisdictions also announced major vaccination delays due to Midwest weather, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

This is a developing story and will be updated

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