Big Storms Mean Big Vaccine Delays as Bad Weather Wallops the U.S.

Big Storms Mean Big Vaccine Delays as Bad Weather Wallops the U.S.

There is new hope that the global vaccine drive will speed up. Women leaving the work force because of the pandemic have led to a “national emergency,” Vice President Kamala Harris said.

Just as vaccine distribution was beginning to gather steam in the United States, brutal winter weather is delaying the delivery of hundreds of thousands of doses across the country.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected “widespread delays” in vaccine shipments and deliveries because of weather affecting a FedEx facility in Memphis and a UPS facility in Louisville, both vaccine shipping hubs. Now those projections appear to be coming true.

Shipment delays have been reported in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Utah, Washington and Oregon, among other states, forcing vaccine sites to temporarily shutter and coveted appointments to be rescheduled.

In Texas, where millions of residents lost power during this week’s powerful storm, a delivery of more than 400,000 first doses and 330,000 second doses was delayed in anticipation of the bad weather. A portion of those shots, roughly 35,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, were sent to North Texas providers on Wednesday, but shipments will continue to depend on safety conditions.

Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said Thursday that the state was “asking providers that aren’t able to store vaccine due to power outages to transfer it elsewhere or administer it so it doesn’t spoil.”

On Monday, health officials in Texas scrambled to get more than 5,000 shots into arms after a power outage in a storage facility where they were being kept. But Mr. Van Deusen said that “reports of vaccine spoiling have been minimal.”

The Houston Health Department said Thursday it would restart vaccinations for second doses this weekend, and schedule additional first and second dose appointments next week.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said more than 2,000 vaccine sites are in areas with power outages.

Most of the vaccines for New York State, scheduled for delivery between Feb. 12 and Feb. 21, have been delayed as well, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Thursday night.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference earlier in the day that “a vast majority of the resupply” the city was expecting for this week had not yet shipped from the factories.

The city has had to hold off on scheduling upward of 35,000 appointments for first vaccine doses because of shipment delays and vaccine shortages. The opening of two new distribution sites was also postponed.

In Los Angeles, the city said that appointments for about 12,500 will be delayed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said that while 136,000 Pfizer doses had arrived this week, the state had still not received its shipment for the week of 200,000 Moderna doses. He said the shipment could be delayed as late as Monday.

“Because the storms we are seeing in the rest of the country, it’s basically sitting in the FedEx warehouse — and I don’t think they can even get into it because of everything,” Mr. DeSantis said at a news conference Thursday, encouraging those who had appointments rescheduled to “hang in there, the doses are going to get here.”

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, called the weather delay “significant.”

“Well, obviously it’s an issue,” he told MSNBC on Thursday. “It’s been slowed down in some places, going to a grinding halt.”

Dr. Fauci said, “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. We’re going to just have to make up for it, namely do double time when this thing clears up.”

Jennifer Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that the Biden administration was working closely with manufacturing and shipping partners to assess weather conditions.

As of Thursday, the C.D.C. said about 41 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 16.2 million people who have been fully vaccinated.

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