North Carolina To See Further Delays In Vaccine Delivery
RALEIGH — President Joe Biden's administration told North Carolina and other states on Friday afternoon that they will see further delays in shipments of COVID-19 vaccine doses.
North Carolina public health officials said they now expect more deliveries of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to resume at the start of next week. The state health department also warned that some providers may choose not to go forward with plans to vaccinate teachers and school staff once eligibility opens up to that group on Wednesday.
Severe winter weather has fueled delays across the country, causing tens of thousands of North Carolinians scheduled to be vaccinated this week to have their appointments pushed back.
“What we are being informed by Operation Warp Speed is that shipments are being held by the producers and distributors until they are sure shipments won’t be delayed,” the department said in a statement to The Associated Press late Friday morning. “To our knowledge, operations are being planned to help ensure spoilage isn’t an issue. We understand Operation Warp Speed is closely monitoring and coordinating across the supply chain.”
First doses typically arrive in North Carolina on Tuesdays and Wednesday, while second doses arrive on Thursdays and Fridays. First doses that had been expected to arrive this week but were not shipped are now scheduled to be delivered to North Carolina providers between Monday and Wednesday of next week.
Data provided by the state on Thursday showed 41,925 of the roughly 127,000 Pfizer vaccines expected to arrive this week had left the manufacturer or distributor. None of the more than 163,000 expected Moderna doses had been delivered.
The delay could affect North Carolina's transition to its third phase of vaccine distribution, which expands eligibility on Wednesday to child care workers, preK-12 educators and school staff. A far more expansive group of “frontline essential workers" ranging from mail carriers to elected officials are scheduled to become eligible for the vaccine starting March 10.
It's unclear how many providers will delay the implementation of the Phase 3 rollout in order to meet the high demand among those currently eligible for a shot but still unvaccinated. Health care workers and people over age 65 can presently get the vaccine, though some have struggled to book and come in for an initial appointment.
Next week’s federal allocations of doses expected to arrive during the same time period as the delayed shipments, according to the state health department.
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Anderson is a corps members for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.