JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A winter storm leaving behind icy roads, power outages and dangerously low temperatures from the Southwest to the Canadian border has delayed shipments of coronavirus vaccines to Florida, according to the state’s top emergency official.
Jared Moskowitz, the outgoing director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said Monday the state was told that the massive weather system will delay the shipment of vaccines.
His office told News4Jax on Tuesday that 200,000 Moderna vaccines expected to arrive Tuesday have been delayed and are now expected to arrive on Thursday. The state is still expecting to receive the full allocation of vaccines for the week and are asking that providers do not cancel appointments, but rather reschedule any appointments that impacted by the delay.
Emergency management and health department officials are providing regular updates to make sure the vaccines are distributed efficiently when they arrive, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday in a tweet.
Weather conditions across the United States are impacting the shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine to Florida. @FLSERT and @HealthyFla are providing regular updates to our partners to ensure the vaccine is distributed as efficiently as possible as it arrives.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 16, 2021
News4Jax was told a shipment to Florida expected Monday might arrive either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Publix, which is currently distributing vaccines through more than 500 of its pharmacies in Florida, has delayed plans to schedule more appointments on Wednesday morning. It is unclear if they will be able to accept appointments during Friday’s planned sign-up period.
“We know how important administering this vaccine is, so we deeply regret the need to cancel Wednesday’s scheduling event,” Publix director of communications Maria Brous said in a news release. “Once additional vaccine is received, we will announce the next opportunity for vaccine appointment scheduling.”
Brous said existing appointments scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday will not be impacted.
On Friday, Publix announced it had given 250,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine since mid-January, which represents nearly 30% of the vaccines administered in Florida in the last 30 days.
Walmart, Winn-Dixie and Harveys stores, which began giving vaccines in Northeast Florida counties earlier this month. A spokesman for Southeastern Grocers, which owns both Winn-Dixie and Harveys, said they were impacted by the delay.
“Our customers will be the first to know when additional appointments are available,” said Kaley Shaffer, director of public relations and community for Southeastern Grocers, which owns both Winn-Dixie and Harveys.
She urged people to visit winndixie.com/pharmacy/covid-vaccine for the latest information.
Officials from the Duval County health department said there was a delay in shipment Monday to the Regency Square Mall vaccine site, but they expect it to arrive soon and don’t anticipate it impacting its daily operations.
Baptist Health in Jacksonville said it is unsure when a shipment of 1,000 doses expected this week to use for people under the age of 65 but determined to be medically vulnerable.
“So we’re anticipating, for example, a shipment of 1,000 doses today,” said Dr. Elizabeth Ransom, Baptist’s executive vice president and chief physician. “It got delayed a little bit by the weather.”
In Clay County, the head of emergency operations says they have not had any delays and their vaccination program is on target. The same goes for Nassau County. St. Johns County is still checking.
Icy roads from the West Coast through the Midwest and into the South shut down vaccinations at many sites, pushing those with appointments back into the pool of those waiting. The schedule disarray could get worse, with nasty weather expected to last for several days. Places from Oregon to Oklahoma could see a foot of new snow by the weekend.
Severe winter weather sparked emergency declarations in at least seven states, including Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma and Oregon. Even Okaloosa County, in Florida’s Panhandle, closed its schools Tuesday due to icy road conditions. Vaccine appointments in Houston and Austin were expected to be canceled again Tuesday because of the severe winter weather.
Flights into and out of several major airports were canceled Monday and more cancellations are expected Tuesday.
Limited vaccine supply, varying state plans and other points of confusion have slowed the effort to get doses to Americans. Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday showed a little over 10% of the country — 34.7 million people — have received at least one dose, and 11.2 million have received both of the two doses required for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
According to the Florida Department of Health, 1,284,052 people in Florida have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and just over 1.1 million people in the state have received both shots. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows higher numbers for the state: that 2.3 million people have received at least one dose.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.