Winter weather delays vaccine distribution across the U.S.

The storms that slammed the Midwest and Texas over the past few days have disrupted the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine, the White House announced on Friday.

Around 6 million doses of the medication have been held up from reaching vaccination sites around the country, according to Andy Slavitt, the White House senior adviser for the pandemic response.

Slavitt said at a Friday news conference that the six million doses equal about a three-day supply of the vaccine.

“As weather conditions improve, we are already looking to clear this backlog,” Slavitt said. He added that the administration anticipates “all the backlog doses will be delivered in the next week.”

“We expect we will be able to manage this backlog and the new production coming online next week,” Slavitt said. “Many states have been able to cover some of this delay with existing inventory.”

Slavitt stressed that the delay in delivering the vaccine won’t damage the medication and that it is “safe and sound” in warehouses.

Vaccine shippers FedEx, UPS and McKesson “have all faced challenges as workers have been snowed in and unable to get to work,” Slavitt said.

In addition to delivery problems, vaccine distribution sites were without electricity and many roads were closed, contributing to the delay.

The doses should be delivered within a week, with 1.4 million doses being shipped out on Friday.

UPS and FedEx will make deliveries Saturday to sites that are open to accept them, Slavitt said.

The New York Times reported that vaccination appointments were postponed in California and Texas because of slowdowns at two vaccine shipping centers in Tennessee.

Slavitt said vaccination sites are being asked to extend their hours and to reschedule postponed appointments.

The White House announced that President Joe Biden will visit a Pfizer vaccine manufacturing plant near Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Friday to talk to workers and get an update on the plant’s operations.

More coronavirus pandemic coverage:

>> Coronavirus vaccines: CDC separates myths from facts

>> Coronavirus: Should we be wearing two masks when we go out in public?

>> Coronavirus: How long between exposure to the virus and the start of symptoms?

>> What are your chances of coming into contact with someone who has COVID-19? This tool will tell you

>> Wash your masks: How to clean a cloth face covering

>> Fact check: Will masks lower the oxygen level, raise the carbon dioxide in your blood?

>> How to not let coronavirus pandemic fatigue set in, battle back if it does