The U.S. has a ‘backlog’ of six million coronavirus vaccine doses due to the massive winter storms that have swept the Midwest and Texas, the Biden administration revealed on Friday.
Andy Slavitt, the White House senior advisor for COVID-19 response, said during a press briefing that the logjam is three days’ worth of shipments that were supposed to be sent to every single U.S. state.
Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working to open up more mass vaccination sites across the country.
Slavitt announced at the press briefing that five additional mass vaccination sites are being opened, four in Florida and the fifth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
It comes as 57.7 million Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as immunization efforts continue to be ramped up.
Currently, 41 million people in the U.S. – or 12.5 percent of the population – has received an initial dose and 16.1 million – 4.9 percent – are fully inoculated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
An average of between 1.6 and 1.7 million per day are being vaccinated and President Joe Biden is expected to meet his goal of 100 million shots in arms in his first 100 days in office.
Of the doses administered, about 29.5 million have been Pfizer-BioNTech’s jab and 28 million have been the jab from Moderna.
On Friday, President Joe Biden traveled to Michigan Friday to tour a Pfizer vaccine manufacturing plant near Kalamazoo, amid the winter weather causing COVID-19 vaccine delays. along with Michigan Gov Gretchen Whitmer, as well coronavirus taskforce director Jeffrey Zients, Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla and the facility’s production lead, Shawn Hamilton.
Andy Slavitt (center), the White House senior advisor for COVID-19 response, said during a White House briefing on Friday that the U.S. has a ‘backlog’ of six million coronavirus vaccine doses
Slavitt said the logjam is three days’ worth of shipments that were supposed to be sent to every single U.S. state.but couldn’t due to the winter storms sweeping the Midwest and Texas as between 1.6 and 1.7 million people continue to be vaccinated every day
Currently, 41 million people in the U.S. – or 12.5% of the population – has received an initial dose and 16.1 million – 4.9% of the population- are fully inoculated
President Joe Biden (left), Jeffrey Zients (center left), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (center right) and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla (right) tour the Pfizer vaccine plant Friday in Kalamazoo, Michigan
On Friday, Slavitt said the storms had delayed the delivery of vaccines in all 50 states due to the historic winter storms that had blasted across the country.
‘Many states have been able to cover some of this delay with existing inventory,’ Slavitt said.
Slavitt went on to explain that delivery hubs at UPS, FedEx and McKesson – which deliver the doses to states – have been reporting staffing shortages.
He said workers ‘are currently snowed in and unable to get to work to package the vaccines’ as well as kits and other supplies needed.
In addition, road closures have left trucks unable to get vaccines to immunization sites from shipping hubs.
What’s more, more than 2,000 vaccine distribution sites have been unable to receive doses because they don’t have power need to store the ultra-cold shots, Slavitt said.
Because of the cold-chain needed to store Pfizer’s vaccine as well as Moderna, Slavitt said ti makes more sense to hold the doses rather than risk them expiring.
According to Slavitt, the vaccines are currently ‘sitting safe and sound in our factories and hubs ready to be shipped’ as soon as possible.
‘As weather conditions improve, we are already looking to clear this backlog,’ he said, noting that 1.4 million doses are being shipped on Friday.
‘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.’
Florida has teamed up with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to open four new mass vaccination sites with the ability to vaccinate up to 12,000 people daily, including at the Tampa Greyhound Track in Tampa (pictured)
Gov Ron DeSantis initially called the use of FEMA to build vaccination clinics across the U.S. ‘a ‘big mistake,’ but changed his mind after noting that FEMA would bring additional doses into the state. Pictured: A FEMA official looks on as workers set up the new mass vaccination site at the Oakland Coliseum in California, February 12
On Wednesday, FEMA announced it is partnering with Florida and Pennsylvania and opening up five mass community vaccination centers.
Four of the locations will be in Florida: at Tampa Greyhound Track in Tampa; Valencia College in Orlando, Gateway Mall in Jacksonville; and Miami Dade College’s north campus in Miami.
The sites will be open from 7am to 7pm seven days a week with the capacity to vaccinate a total of up to 12,000 people every day.
Each of the sites site will have two smaller, mobile satellite sites with the goal of administering 500 vaccines a day in underserved communities.
Gov Ron DeSantis initially called the use of FEMA to build vaccination clinics across the U.S. – including in Florida – a ‘big mistake.’
However, he noted that he has since changed his mind because FEMA would bring additional vaccine doses into the state.
A fifth site will open in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (pictured) with the ability to vaccinate 6,000 people per day, and was chosen as a site due to its large size and proximity to major transit lines
FEMA is also opening up a mass vaccination site in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Doses will come directly from the federal government and the site will be staffed by FEMA, the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Officials said the Convention Center will be able to vaccinate 6,000 people per day and was chosen as a site due to its large size and proximity to major transit lines.
‘We do think that the Convention Center can handle the large volume…a Type 1 site is supposed to be 6,000 people per day, which is quite a few people,’ said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr Thomas Farley during a press conference on Friday.
‘But it’s a very large Convention Center and it’s got great transportation access for both people driving as well as taking public transit.’
It comes one week after FEMA announced it was partnering with Texas to build three new mass community vaccination centers.
Similarly in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced that the state was partnering with the federal government to open mass vaccine sites in ‘socially vulnerable communities’.