Health and Science

Historic winter storm delays Covid vaccine shipments across the U.S.

Key Points
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said nearly all of the doses that had been due to arrive last weekend have been delayed.
  • The Florida Division of Emergency Management said more than 200,000 doses expected this week had not arrived.
  • A White House spokesman said the delays will be discussed later on Friday.
Snow plow trucks clear a street in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020.
Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shipments of Covid-19 vaccine doses were delayed this week across several states due to the historic winter storms that swept across the country, state and federal officials said.

Nearly all of the doses that had been due to arrive in New York state last weekend have been delayed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said late Thursday.

"Every dose that should have shipped on Monday was held back, and only a limited number of Pfizer vaccines left shipping facilities on Tuesday and Wednesday," Cuomo said, adding that the state is working with providers to "reduce the number of appointments that must be rescheduled."

It's not just New York. Samantha Bequer, a spokeswoman for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said more than 200,000 doses expected this week had not arrived.

"The state is still expecting to receive the full allocation of vaccines for Week 10," Bequer said in a statement. "Yesterday, the state was notified that federal deliveries of Moderna vaccine are still delayed by severe weather. At this time, the state has not been provided a new timeline on when to expect the delayed shipments."

Bequer said the state is working with providers and advising them to reschedule, but not cancel, vaccine appointments affected by the setbacks.

In Colorado, state officials said earlier this week that a shipment of more than 130,000 doses was delayed due to the storm. They said the storm affected a vaccine distribution hub in Tennessee that pushed back shipments to several states.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services also said Thursday it was notified by the federal government of continued delays in some shipments and deliveries this week due to severe weather.

The Virginia Department of Health said Thursday its expected delivery of more than 106,000 shots will likely be delayed "due to distribution channels in the Midwest and elsewhere that are currently shut down."

Andy Slavitt, the White House senior advisor for Covid response, confirmed Friday that there's now a backlog of about 6 million doses affecting all 50 states. "Many states" have been able to make up for the missed deliveries with existing inventory, he said at a White House Covid-19 briefing.

Health officials in California, Louisiana and Georgia have confirmed holdups to their shipments as well.

The Georgia Department of Public Health said earlier this week that Pfizer and Moderna were holding back the shipments due to the weather, which was "significantly impacting shipments of COVID-19 vaccine to Georgia."

White House officials have acknowledged the setbacks. Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on Thursday that the storm poses a significant problem to vaccine distribution.

"Well, obviously it's an issue. It's been slowed down in some places going to a grinding halt," Fauci told MSNBC. "We're just going to have to make up for it as soon as the weather lifts a bit, the ice melts and we can get the trucks out and the people out."

Slavitt told CNN on Thursday evening that officials are will have to "work double time next week, presuming the weather improves." He added, however, that "there hasn't been a single vaccine that's spoiled."

"We're going to keep these vaccines safe and sound, then get them out to people and catch up just as soon as the weather allows," he said.

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