TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Winter storms are creating a vaccine whiteout - at least, temporarily. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects “widespread delays” in COVID-19 vaccine deliveries in the coming days due to severe weather sweeping across much of the U.S.
All of Arizona’s vaccine shipments scheduled for this week are delayed. That’s roughly 86,000 Pfizer doses and 91,000 Moderna doses. A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Health Services says the sites in Maricopa and Pima counties administering the Pfizer vaccine should have enough doses on hand to continue operations.
Wednesday night, Feb. 17, at least four counties in Arizona announced plans to postpone some appointments.
The Pima County Health Department says the Tucson Convention Center, Tucson Medical Center and Banner South may be impacted. About 2,800 appointments at these three locations scheduled between Thursday, Feb. 18, and Saturday, Feb. 20, could be postponed. Impacted patients will be notified, but will not lose their spot in line.
“As you know, we have operated our vaccination programs here in Pima County very tightly,” said Dr. Francisco Garcia, the chief medical officer for Pima County. “That means we don’t have a stash in the freezer somewhere if that FedEx shipment doesn’t make it to Pima County.”
With only 140 COVID-19 vaccine doses on hand, Santa Cruz County health officials say they will be moving all appointments scheduled for this week to the same day next week.
Pinal County Public Health Services District tweeted, “Vaccine deliveries have not yet arrived this week in Pinal County due to storm conditions at airport and ground transportation hubs throughout the nation. Pinal County Public Health has not received any additional information on where in transit #COVID vaccine shipments are. Please note that if you have an appointment [on Thursday] at our public health clinics, we do have vaccines for those appointments. No new vaccine appointments in Pinal County are available until new shipments arrive.”
Cochise County posted on Facebook, “Due to nationwide weather restrictions impacting vaccine availability, the Bisbee vaccination POD will be cancelling [Thursday’s] vaccination event. Those with an existing appointment for Thursday, 2/18 at the Bisbee location (1415 Melody Lane), will be contacted directly by the Public Health department to reschedule a new date and time.”
Banner Health confirmed it has enough doses at most of its sites in Arizona to get them through Thursday. However, Friday, Saturday and Sunday appointments are at risk.
“And also, it’s affecting not just a vaccine,” said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer of Banner Health. “Also, the supplies that we need to be able to distribute and provide vaccine to patients. So, we are currently also waiting for supplies such as needles and syringes that have been affected by whether.”