Extreme Winter Weather Delays Covid Vaccine Rollout Across the U.S.

Date: 2021-02-19 23:01:23

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Extreme winter weather is dealing the first major setback to the Biden administration’s planned swift rollout of coronavirus vaccines just as the national vaccination campaign was hitting its stride.

The disruptions caused by frigid temperatures, snow and ice left the White House scrambling to work with states to make up “lost ground” even as President Joe Biden was set to visit a Pfizer vaccine manufacturing plant near Kalamazoo, Michigan. The president’s trip itself had been pushed back a day to Friday due to wintry weather in the nation’s capital.

The president was set to meet with workers at the plant who are producing one of the two federally-approved COVID-19 shots. According to the CDC, the two-dose Pfizer vaccine has been administered about 30 million times since it received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 11.

From Texas to New England, bad weather has forced many injection sites to close and held up shipments of needed doses.

White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt said Friday that the weather has led to a three-day delay in shipping vaccine, or about 6 million doses. Slavitt says the vaccine won’t spoil and is “safe and sound” in warehouses.

But as shipments resume and scale up, vaccinators in communities across the country are going to have to work overtime to get shots into arms. “We as an entire nation will have to pull together to get back on track,” Slavitt told reporters at the White House coronavirus briefing.

From Texas to New England, bad weather has forced many injection sites to close and held up shipments of needed doses.

Slavit said about 1.4 million doses were being shipped Friday and the rest of the backlog should be cleared in several days.

In addition, the government is opening up five new mass vaccination centers, one in Philadelphia, and four others in the Florida cities of Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville.

The U.S. had administered an average of 1.7 million doses per day in the week that ended on Tuesday, evidence that the pace of the vaccination program was picking up. The magnitude of the weather’s impact was not immediately clear because of reporting lags in vaccination data maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but it was expected to be significant.

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