Hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries, injections delayed by winter storm

Pharmacist Ilana Druker prepares the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Houston Independent School District’s Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center on Jan. 9, 2020, in Houston.                    Credit: May-Ying Lam for The Texas Tribune
Pharmacist Ilana Druker prepares the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Houston Independent School District’s Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center on Jan. 9, 2020, in Houston. Credit: May-Ying Lam for The Texas Tribune

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The winter storm has halted Texas’ urgent and critical COVID-19 vaccination efforts — delaying the delivery of hundreds of thousands of doses that were scheduled to arrive and preventing what might have been 1 million injections by hundreds of providers this week, state health officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and shipping companies postponed last Friday’s shipments, which included 407,000 first doses and 333,000 second doses to Texas, in anticipation of the bad weather, said Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

It remains unclear when providers might receive those deliveries, officials said, given the wide swath of Texas that is dealing with historic snow and ice accumulations, impassable roads, power outages, cell phone outages or no access to clean water.

“We're not expecting shipments for this week to arrive until tomorrow at the earliest, and deliveries will be subject to local conditions,” Van Deusen said Tuesday. “No one wants to put vaccine at risk by attempting to deliver it in dangerous conditions.”

Before the storm arrived, Texas was on track to administer 1 million doses per week, and had fully vaccinated more than one million Texans with both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna two-dose regimen by the weekend, according to DSHS numbers.

The winter weather in Texas is expected to intensify this week before warming over the weekend. Temperatures over much of the state remained below freezing on Tuesday, and more ice and snow were expected through Thursday morning.

Public health officials in Dallas, Houston, Austin and other cities postponed planned vaccination events or individual appointments until at least the end of the week, saying the injections would restart once travel conditions were less dangerous. Officials in Hays County were focusing on second-doses rescheduled for the end of the week at a local high school and pushing first doses to next week.