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Health and Medicine

Weather Problems Across The US Are Delaying Oregon’s COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery

An unopened vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Deschutes County Public Health Department in Bend, Ore., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.
OPB
An unopened vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Deschutes County Public Health Department in Bend, Ore., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.

Public health officials are being told Oregon's vaccine doses are stuck in Memphis and likely won't arrive this week.

Oregon’s shipment of 67,000 of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be delayed this week, officials learned on Wednesday. Frigid temperatures and storms in the southeastern United States have grounded flights and disrupted shipping across the country. As of Wednesday, Oregon’s doses were still stuck in Memphis, Tennessee.

“The latest is that no Moderna shipments occurred today and at this point, it is really unclear about tomorrow. So that means it seems very unlikely that Moderna will arrive by Friday,” Dave Baden, the Oregon Health Authority’s chief financial officer, wrote in a letter sent to public health officials and hospitals.

This week’s scheduled shipment of over 25,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines arrived on schedule.

Officials are optimistic that the delayed vaccine doses will arrive next week and distribution will get back on schedule. That would mean some hospitals and counties would receive twice the amount of vaccine doses next week they were previously expecting.

It is not yet clear how this delay will impact already-scheduled appointments and vaccine distribution. Public health officials are already working to get back on schedule after local winter weather canceled over 10,000 vaccination appointments in the Portland area over Presidents Day weekend.

One bit of good news for those awaiting second doses: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be effectively administered as long as six weeks after the first dose. Although it’s preferable to get as many people fully immunized as fast as possible, delaying the second dose by a week or more will not change the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting.