Crippling weather hampers vaccine deliveries, distribution

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Copyright 2021. The Associated Press. All rights reserved

An electronic message board advises drivers of potential congestion on the intersecting interstate as they drive south on Interstate 55 in north Jackson, Miss., Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, as light snow mixed with sleet, and rain continue to cover much of the state. The National Weather Service forecasts temperatures barely hovering at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and likely slipping into the single digits by Tuesday morning. A winter storm warning continues throughout the state. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

ATLANTA – The icy blast across much of the U.S. injected more confusion and frustration into the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination drive Wednesday just when it was gathering speed, snarling vaccine deliveries and forcing the cancellation of countless shots around the country.

Across a large swath of the nation, including Deep South states like Georgia and Alabama, the snowy, slippery weather either led to the closing of vaccination sites outright or held up the necessary shipments, with delays expected to continue for days.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio said doses expected this week were delayed by weather elsewhere in the country, forcing the city to hold off making 30,000 to 35,000 vaccination appointments.

One public health expert said the delays were unacceptable.

“Having vaccine centers take snow days is just going to back things up more than they already are,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “The virus doesn’t take snow days.”

Adalja said people in charge of vaccination efforts must find ways to be more resilient to weather, “just like mailmen can deliver the mail through sleet or snow.” He suggested clinics use better contingency plans. The goal, he said, must be “a continuous assembly line of vaccines going into people’s arms.”

Jo Dohogne of Bartlett, Tennessee, said she scheduled two appointments this week to receive her second dose of the Moderna vaccine, but both were canceled because of poor weather.

Dohogne, 75, who has multiple sclerosis, said she felt left in the lurch as the six-week mark for her second dose approached following her first vaccination on Jan. 14.