Thousands of COVID-19 vaccine appointments scheduled Friday at sites run by the city of Los Angeles will have to be postponed after shipments of doses were delayed by the severe winter weather that’s wreaking havoc across the country.
About 12,500 people will have their appointments delayed, and those affected should be notified by text, email or phone, according to a city statement.
“Severe weather across the country has disrupted travel and shipping nationwide, including delaying the delivery of our vaccines,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “Our city is ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines swiftly, safely and equitably, and as soon as doses arrive in Los Angeles, we will get them into people’s arms immediately.”
But by Thursday evening, some accounts had already emerged of individuals fearing that supply may run out earlier than expected. At Dodger Stadium, traffic came to a standstill for hours as staff told residents with appointments that they were awaiting more vaccine, without further details.
Officials said the reshuffling will affect only the city’s large-scale vaccination sites. Inoculations from city-run mobile clinics will continue.
The city of Los Angeles operates vaccination sites at Hansen Dam, San Fernando Park, Lincoln Park, Pierce College, Crenshaw Christian Center and Dodger Stadium.
City officials said two shipments have been held up because of the inclement weather: 26,000 doses, previously set to arrive Tuesday, are still in Kentucky, and 37,000 more, set to be used next week, are in Tennessee.
The weather has yet to interrupt operations at vaccine sites run by L.A. County, which include Pomona Fairplex, the Forum, Cal State Northridge, the county Office of Education, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Balboa Sports Complex and El Sereno Recreation Center.
“At this time, there are no weather impacts to the vaccination sites operated by Los Angeles County,” officials said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Los Angeles County continues to vaccinate eligible people who have appointments for second doses at the county-operated sites. It is not yet known what, if any, impact will be felt into next week.”
L.A. is far from alone in feeling the pinch when it comes to vaccines. A series of powerful winter storms has pummeled much of the United States, unleashing days of freezing rain, ice and snow, knocking out power and creating treacherous travel conditions.
Jeff Zients, who leads President Biden’s COVID-19 task force, said during a news briefing Wednesday that the weather was having an effect on delivery and distribution companies.
“People are working as hard as they can given the importance of getting the vaccines to the states and to providers,” Zients said, “but there is an impact on deliveries.”
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said during a weekly COVID-19 update that the supply lines to the locations where Pfizer and Moderna made their vaccines were simply frozen at the moment. The main manufacturing facilities for the nation’s two COVID-19 vaccines are in Massachusetts and Michigan.
“Both of those, along with the routes from there to here, have been impacted by the snow and the winter weather conditions we’re seeing throughout the country,” he said. “This is going to impact our ability to administer vaccines this week.”
In Orange County, officials had to temporarily close their vaccination super site at Disneyland after an expected delivery of Moderna vaccines did not arrive Tuesday.
That site will close Thursday through Monday, officials said. A location at Santa Ana College also will close temporarily starting Saturday, and its reopening will depend on supply.
A representative from the California Department of Public Health could not immediately say on Thursday how wide the vaccine disruption was but confirmed that California was “among the states that have been affected by delays.”
Officials in Fresno County said 7,800 Moderna doses had been tied up because of weather and had not been delivered as of Thursday morning.
“We do not have a date of when these doses will be delivered at this time,” Joe Prado, community health division manager with the county Department of Public Health, said in a statement. “We are working with medical providers in the community to provide them the necessary doses from our supply this week to avoid cancellation of appointments.”
Some vaccination appointments also had to be rescheduled in Santa Barbara County this week after an expected allotment of Moderna vaccine was “delayed due to severe weather conditions across the country,” officials said in a statement.