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Six million COVID-19 vaccine doses delayed by winter storms: White House

Six million COVID-19 vaccine doses delayed by winter storms: White House
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The White House said Friday that winter storms have caused a backlog of 6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, about three days worth of shipments, but they expect to clear the backlog within a week.

Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for the coronavirus response, said the weather had caused delays affecting all 50 states at multiple points along the supply chain. Workers for distributors, FedEx, UPS and McKesson, have been snowed in and unable to get to work, he said, and road closures have also hindered distribution at multiple points along the chain.

In addition, more than 2,000 vaccination sites are in areas without power and unable to accept doses.

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Still, Slavitt said, "We anticipate that all the backlogged doses will be delivered within the next week."

That will require working overtime and extending hours in some places.

"We will be able to catch up but we understand this will mean asking more of people," Slavitt said. "If we all work together, from the factory all the way to the vaccinators, we will make up for it in the coming week."

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Vaccine doses are currently "sitting safe and sound in our factories and hubs," Slavitt said, rather than being sent out to areas where they might expire because of lack of power.

The federal government is also opening additional mass vaccination sites as part of an ongoing effort to ramp up distribution. The first federally run sites opened this week in California.

Four sites will be in Florida, in Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa, and together can vaccinate 12,000 people per day. One more site will be in Philadelphia. Slavitt said they should all be up and running within two weeks.