Storm delayed Covid vaccine shipments for midweek delivery, White House adviser says

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Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are being prepared for shipment to the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing facility on December 13, 2020 in Portage, Michigan.

Morry Gash | Getty Images

All Covid-19 vaccine dose shipments that were delayed last week by the historic winter storm are expected to be delivered by the middle of the week, Andy Slavitt, White House senior advisor on the response to Covid-19.

Slavitt said on Friday that the delivery of about 6 million doses, representing about three shipping days, had been delayed by the storm.

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“I announced on Friday that we would catch up with deliveries by the end of this week,” Slavitt said Monday during the White House press briefing on Covid-19. “We now expect all overdue doses to be delivered by midweek.”

He added that on Monday, the federal government planned to deliver around 7 million doses of the vaccine, a combination of vaccines late compared to last week and some of which were due out this week. He said the government’s ability to quickly catch up to the storm was due to members of the military and McKesson employees, who the government hired to help manage distribution and logistics in the vaccine rollout.

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“Seventy McKesson employees have volunteered to work 1 hour shifts Saturday night, Sunday morning to prepare shipments to meet the 11:00 am transit deadline,” he said, adding that UPS employees were also flexible to accommodate late deliveries.

Slavitt added that while the White House plans to catch up quickly on the delivery of delayed doses, “it will take time” for vaccination sites to catch up.

“We encourage vaccination sites to follow the same direction as those working long hours to catch up with deliveries by scheduling more appointments to vaccinate the anxious public as quickly as possible,” he said. Slavitt added that vaccination sites in parts of the country that were particularly affected by the storm are still closed.

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The pace of vaccinations in Texas, which was rocked by the storm that left millions of people in the state without power, has suffered badly. Slavitt said the seven-day average of daily doses dropped 31% over the past week.

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