Updated Feb 17, 2021 - Health

Winter storm causes "widespread delays" of COVID vaccine shipments

Photo of two people shoveling snow next to a line of cars
Chicago residents dig out their car after a snowstorm coupled with lake-effect snow dumped more than 17 inches of snow in some areas of the city. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

The winter storm sweeping across Texas and much of the U.S. has posed new obstacles to coronavirus vaccination efforts.

Driving the news: Hazardous weather has slowed deliveries from two central distribution hubs for the Southeast. The U.S. government is projecting "widespread delays" in vaccine shipments in the next few days, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokesperson told the Washington Post.

  • The CDC did not specify how many doses scheduled for delivery this week will be impacted.

The state of play: Several regions have canceled vaccination efforts, including Alabama, Indiana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee and the Chicago area.

  • The Texas Department of State Health Services tweeted that it expects this week's shipments to arrive Wednesday at the earliest, depending on local conditions.
  • In Houston, the public health agency lost power and had to distribute thousands of shots before they went bad.
  • Missouri shuttered all large-scale vaccination sites through Friday.
  • Some counties in Minnesota have had to cancel vaccinations, a Fox News affiliate reports.
  • The grocery chain Publix stopped taking vaccine appointments in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia due to shipping delays.
  • The weather is expected to disrupt vaccine shipments from a FedEx facility in Tennessee and a UPS installation in Kentucky, which both operate as shipping hubs for several states, the Biden administration said.

The big picture: The storm has led to a number of deaths as well as a widespread power outage across Texas.

The bottom line: "No one wants to put vaccine at risk by attempting to deliver it in dangerous conditions," the Texas DSHS said in its Twitter post.

The other side: The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that the number of vaccines being sent weekly to states will increase again, from 11 million doses to 13.5 million, per The Post.

  • And FEMA launched its first mass COVID-19 vaccination sites yesterday in Los Angeles and Oakland. The sites are part of the administration's plan to distribute vaccines faster and to hard-hit communities.
Go deeper