The devastating winter storms that swept across the United States have created confusion and frustration in the nation’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign, booming deliveries and forcing the cancellation of thousands of shots across the country.
Across much of the United States, including Deep South states such as Georgia and Alabama, snowy, slippery weather has either led to outright closures of vaccination sites or delayed shipments needed. with delays that are expected to last for days.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday that states would face serious delays in receiving doses, dangerous road conditions and power outages hampering delivery. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said doses expected this week had been delayed by weather elsewhere in the country, forcing the city to delay 30,000 to 35,000 vaccination appointments.
A public health expert said the delays were unacceptable.
The fact that vaccination centers take snowy days will only support things more than they already are, said Dr Amesh Adalja, senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The virus does not take snow days.
Jo Dohogne of Bartlett, Tennessee, said she had scheduled two appointments this week to receive her second dose of the Moderna vaccine, but both were canceled due to bad weather.
Dohogne, 75, with multiple sclerosis, said she felt left behind as the six-week deadline for her second dose approached after her first vaccination on January 14.
I’m just stressed out; it’s like taking my whole life, said Dohogne.
White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said that in places where vaccination sites have been closed, such as Texas, the government is encouraging sites to increase their hours once they are open.
We want to make sure that since we have wasted time in some states for people to get their hands on needles in the guns, our partners do whatever they can to catch up, he said.
In southern Nevada, officials reported that winter storms had delayed a shipment of Moderna vaccine that was due to be given as a second dose this week.
Disturbingly, the delays come as efforts to immunize more people intensify. The United States vaccines an average of 1.7 million Americans a day against Covid-19, up from less than a million a month ago. New White House figures show a steady increase in the pace of vaccinations compared to Joe Bidens in his first month in office.
Biden is on track to surpass his goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office, but the pace needs to pick up even more to meet his plan to vaccinate nearly all adults by the end of summer.
Fran Goldman said she walked six miles in the snow to get the shot. Photograph: Ruth Goldman / AP
In the face of frustrating delays, some people have shown remarkable persistence. Fran Goldman, 90, of Seattle, told the Seattle Times she had walked 10 km round trip in the snow to get the shot.
Goldman said after a lot of effort she finally got a Sunday morning slot, but on Friday and Saturday a strong storm moved in, filling the streets with snowdrifts.
Goldman dressed in fleece pants and threw a few warm layers over a short sleeve shirt so the nurse could easily reach his arm.
It was not easy. It was difficult, she said. She got to her appointment only five minutes late.
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