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Vaccine Watch

Another vaccine scramble: Winter storms impact appointments for Santa Cruz County residents

Severe winter weather is disrupting the vaccine distribution chain across the country, but the CDC now says second doses can be administered up to six weeks after the first and still be effective.

Severe winter weather is pummeling much of the country, and though Santa Cruz has been spared the cold and snow, the bad conditions could hold up vaccine shipments for Santa Cruz and the rest of the state.

Some Sutter/PAMF patients in Santa Cruz County got a call today to say their second vaccine dose would be delayed due to weather-related issues, only to receive another call hours later saying they could actually keep their original appointments.

A spokesperson for Sutter/PAMF said that “severe storms across the U.S. this week have affected shipping, and we did not receive already allocated doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine which were en route to California.” The spokesperson wasn’t immediately able to provide information on whether this would impact second dose vaccine appointments.

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Kaiser Permanente provided a statement saying: “The extreme cold weather that has affected much of the country has caused delays in the delivery of some of the supply of COVID-19 vaccine allocated for Kaiser Permanente. . . . If any appointments are affected by this delay we will reach out directly to individuals to reschedule.”

Dignity Health was unable to immediately provide information on whether their patients were being impacted.

While patients are understandably concerned, the CDC has released guidance recommending that if the second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines cannot be administered at the recommended time interval (21 to 28 days, depending on the vaccine), it “may be administered up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose.”

Other counties in California have already experienced major disruptions, causing them to have to cancel appointments. The weather, for example, has tied up two L.A.-bound shipments of the Moderna vaccine, totaling some 63,000 doses, that were supposed to be available for appointments this week and next, according to city officials.
The main manufacturing facilities for the nation’s two COVID-19 vaccines — made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech — are in Massachusetts and Michigan.

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California is among a number of states that have been affected by weather-related delays, according to a representative from the state Department of Public Health.

The state was anticipating stepped-up vaccine deliveries in the coming weeks, but that was before the winter storms struck, and the distribution still would have brought far less than what is needed to quickly work through the queue of people eligible to receive shots.

California — along with the rest of the country — has been contending with a scarcity of vaccines, with officials saying they have the capacity, but not the supply, to inoculate significantly more people.

Contributing: Los Angeles Times