Winter Weather Causing Delays in Federal COVID Vaccine Delivery in Illinois

The federal government said Tuesday that shipping delays are expected across the country, including in Illinois, as winter weather wreaks havoc on several states.

According to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office, "the federal government has notified all states of COVID-19 vaccine delivery delays across the entire country due to adverse weather and road conditions."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Operation Warp Speed deliveries slated for Tuesday would be "significantly impacted" as adverse weather impacted operations at facilities where "vaccines and ancillary supply kits originate." 

The departments warned that delays could continue throughout the week.

"To help offset delayed vaccine deliveries, the state of Illinois proactively ordered vaccine to be delivered to its Strategic National Stockpile Receipt, Store, and Stage site in anticipation of adverse weather," Pritzker's office said in a release. "Illinois is distributing that vaccine to many providers around the state today and tomorrow, as weather permits, to continue to support vaccination operations."

Similarly, Chicago reported Tuesday that more than 100 providers were left without their expected shipments due to winter weather conditions.

Already, city-run testing and vaccinations sites were closed Tuesday following a massive snowstorm.

"The inclement weather in the Midwest has also led to a delay of vaccine shipments coming into Chicago over the upcoming days," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a release. While there is currently no estimated time of arrival on the orders, we anticipate daily updates from CDC. All COVID shipments are requested as overnight shipping so we expect vaccine shipments and supply with catch up quickly."

The latest system blanketed parts of the Chicago area with up to a foot and a half of snow, shuttering schools to in-person classes Tuesday as officials urged residents to stay off the snow-filled roads.

The National Weather Service reported that 18 inches of snow had fallen in some locations by 8 a.m. Tuesday, while Midway International Airport had 17.7 inches and O’Hare International Airport reported 7.5 inches.

Illinois State Police and the state Department of Transportation urged residents to stay at home Tuesday while crews clear roadways. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker also issued a disaster proclamation for all Illinois counties.

Officials noted that deliveries from Chicago's allocation to vaccine providers will also be delayed due to the travel impacts from the storm.

Officials urged anyone with appointments at private healthcare centers to contact their providers and check on the status of their appointments.

"There's more than 100 providers that didn't get their vaccine like we were hoping today," Arwady said in a Facebook Live video Tuesday. "We just need to wait for that vaccine to get here."

She added that she's hopeful the shipments will arrive in the next days or two.

"Before you travel out in this snow, which it's very hard for people to be getting out of driveways and down the streets right now, make sure that that site is operating. We can control a lot of things but we can't control the weather," Arwady said.

She stressed, however, that vaccine doses currently in Chicago are under proper storage conditions and "will not be wasted."

Still, the Illinois Department of Public Health said "weather will most likely contribute to reduced vaccinations over the next several days."

Similarly, the snow, ice and bitter cold gripping Missouri has delayed people from coronavirus vaccinations, including those who signed up for mass inoculation events that had been scheduled for this week.

The governor’s office said it was trying to reschedule the National Guard-run events, but that registrants should seek vaccinations elsewhere in the meantime. Gov. Mike Parson also said the conditions would likely delay some vaccine shipments.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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