The winter storm stretching across US is causing widespread disruption in the coronavirus vaccination. Clinics where shots were being given have closed and vaccine shipments have been stalled as snow and ice have grounded flights and turned highways dangerously slick, the New York Times has reported.
The cancellations are just the latest hurdle in the U.S. vaccine rollout, which has been accelerating despite difficulties, delays and confusion: An average of about 1.7 million people are getting a shot daily, according to a New York Times database. Several states, including New York and California, have expanded eligibility despite a limited supply.
Many of the closures and cancellations have been in the South, where the storm was particularly fierce — and where the pace of vaccinations in several states has lagged behind the national average. On Monday, vaccine appointments were rescheduled or canceled from Texas to Alabama to Kentucky.
The storm’s impact on vaccine distribution reached across the country. Health officials in Washington State, where the storm has come and gone, say they are dialing back vaccination plans later this week because they anticipate delays in the delivery of new doses. Governor Mike Parson of Missouri said that the weather would most likely interfere with vaccine shipments to his state as well.
The interruptions appear likely to grow in the coming days, as the storm continues its path across the country. More closures already are being announced. Power outages, some of them intentional to ease the burden on the electrical grid, have affected millions of people in Texas, Oregon, Virginia, Kentucky and elsewhere.
In Missouri, Mr. Parson said on Monday that vaccination distribution run by the state would be brought to a halt through the rest of the week.
“Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold,” he said in a statement.
In Alabama, hospitals have closed vaccination clinics, as have more than two dozen county health departments. In New Hampshire, state officials said vaccinations scheduled for Tuesday would be rescheduled or canceled.
Last week, the Biden administration announced it had secured enough vaccine doses to inoculate every American adult, with 200 million more doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines lined up by the end of summer for a total of 600 million. Both vaccines require two doses per person.
Many Americans still won’t have been vaccinated by then, President Biden said, because of logistical hurdles such as overburdened local health departments that lack the staff or experience to carry out such a large-scale vaccination campaign.
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