Biden to visit Mich. vaccine plant as winter throws a curve


WASHINGTON (AP) — 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
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 in 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.
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.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House was closely monitoring the weather’s impact on
vaccine deliveries and working with manufacturers, shipping companies and states to speed their
The delays were so severe that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday suggested he would explore
sending his state’s national guard to collect doses from icebound shipping hubs in Memphis, Tennessee,
and Louisville, Kentucky.
The Republican governor said the state "may have some real issues with supply delivery this
week," and "we have been told it would be a few days late, based on some of the issues around
weather in other parts of the country."
The Virginia Department of Health reported Thursday that it was expecting delays on about 90% of its
expected 120,000 doses this week and warned that the delays could cascade into next week.
"Even if the roads are clear in Virginia, the fulfillment of orders and the movement of these
vaccine and ancillary supplies may be delayed in other parts of the country," the department said
in a news release.
In North Carolina, none of the more than 163,000 first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine scheduled
to arrive this week have been delivered by Biden’s administration, the state health department said. The
state also noted that only a limited number of the nearly 127,000 expected Pfizer vaccines have been
Oklahoma moved to reschedule vaccine clinics to this weekend, when it expects its 110,000 doses to be
delivered, aiming to make up appointments from this week.
The ripple effects extended far beyond areas experiencing winter weather. In Arizona, the bulk of the
state’s anticipated shipment of Moderna doses was delayed until early next week, forcing the
postponement of some vaccination appointments.
Psaki said the White House was working with shippers to speed deliveries of the vaccines once conditions
improved and was encouraging states to extend hours for vaccination clinics once they reopen and to
swiftly rebook postponed appointments.
"We want to make sure that as we’ve lost some time in some states for people to get needles in arms,
that our partners do all they can to make up that lost ground," said White House coronavirus
coordinator Jeff Zients.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must remain frozen during shipping, with the Pfizer shot requiring
super-cold storage temperatures. The White House said it was working with shippers to ensure there was
no spoilage of doses during the weather delays.
"So far this week, there hasn’t been a single vaccine that’s spoiled" due to the delays, White
House COVID adviser Andy Slavitt told CNN on Thursday. "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."
Officials were set to provide a fuller update on the weather impacts to vaccine deliveries on Friday.

No posts to display