Stalled COVID-19 vaccine shipments to impact San Diego County appointments

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Posted at 3:00 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 02:22:11-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Severe winter weather sweeping across the country has delayed incoming shipments of COVID-19 vaccines to San Diego County, likely prompting another delay in administering vaccines to the community.

San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher said the weather that has frozen many areas of the country has also led to delays in expected vaccine shipments. The county expects to have to pause some vaccine locations and reschedule appointments starting as soon as Thursday.

The county was expecting nearly 53,000 vaccine doses that haven't arrived. That number includes a portion of a shipment from Moderna that was delayed last week and is now delayed by weather.

"While it might not snow in San Diego, the snow is directly impacting San Diego. We have received word that several shipments that were scheduled to arrive this week will not be arriving due to weather constraints that are impacting the entire country," Fletcher said.

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Moderna's primary manufacturing facility is in Michigan, while Pfizer's is located in Massachusetts, according to Fletcher.

Last week, the delay of Moderna's shipment resulted in a three-day closure and rescheduling of appointments at the county's largest vaccination site outside Petco Park.

"Last week we literally begged, borrowed, and stole vaccines in order to keep as much of our system and structure in places running and a second set of delays is going to have very significant impacts on our system," Fletcher said.

Despite the interruption in shipments, county health officials have "a high degree of confidence" they will be able to begin vaccinating all residents under tier one of Phase 1B, which includes essential workers in food and agriculture, teachers, and law enforcement, starting the first week of March.

HOW-TO GUIDE: Finding and scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

Fletcher said the rate at which those 65 and older have been vaccinated and projected supply will likely allow officials to move forward with all tier one of Phase 1B. That will all, of course, depend on vaccine shipments arriving on time and in full.

The county has set up five vaccination super stations and 15 community sites to be able to move forward quickly when vaccine supply is available.

"We think that this network positions us very well. That as the supply chains begin to increase, that we will be in a position to capitalize very rapidly and continue the vaccination movement," Fletcher said. "We also think that some of these supply chain issues will work themselves out in the next week to 10 days."

San Diego County has administered more than 663,000 vaccines to residents of about 765,500 doses received. About 17.6% of the county has been vaccinated with one dose, while about 5% have been fully vaccinated, according to the county's dashboard.