AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The winter weather this week is not only causing delays on grocery and fuel shipments, it’s also causing problems for COVID-19 shipments, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“With the winter weather, really across the country, the CDC and FedEx and UPS haven’t been shipping vaccine through the early part of the week. They did get some doses of Pfizer vaccine out,” DSHS spokesperson Chris Van Deusen explained, saying while Pfizer was able to ship about 35,000 doses to north Texas on Wednesday, most other shipments are on pause.
“We’re literally put on ice for right now. And so that’s, you know, I think things are really just on pause both on the shipment side as well as the vaccine administration side,” Van Deusen said, pointing to many hubs and primary care providers that have canceled appointments this week due to treacherous road conditions or power outages.
That’s causing concern for those scheduled to receive their timely second dose of the vaccine this week, like Andre Harris, who has a chronic illness qualifying him in the 1B group.
“My second shot was supposed to be scheduled for Wednesday of this week. However, because of the snowstorm, of course, nothing can be done,” Harris said. “It is very frustrating. It seems the last couple of months have been disaster upon disaster.”
Harris said while he understands it’s no one’s fault, he’s concerned about when his doctor will be able to get him rescheduled.
“I’ve been on a ventilator before due to my sickle cell. I’m not trying to be on it again for a virus that I can potentially protect myself against,” Harris said.
Others across the state are running into the same problem.
“We don’t want to put the vaccine in jeopardy by trying to ship it or trying to get people out on the roads, you know, right now, when it’s just not safe,” Van Deusen said.
Phillipe Nassif’s parents in Houston are now having to deal with not only the anxiety of no power or water for days but trying to figure out when they can be rescheduled for their second dose, which was cancelled this week due to weather.
“Now they’ve been told that it is postponed indefinitely,” Nassif explained. “We were really relieved to hear that they got the first dose and were scheduled to get the second dose. And my anxiety levels have been through the roof the last several days.”
Nassif is living in Washington, D.C. right now, and the Houston native has had limited contact with his parents and his brother living in Houston this week due to power outages.
“We’ve survived the pandemic. And, you know, Texas had its share of natural disasters over the last several years, and now we have this new disaster. And it doesn’t show that there’s any end in sight,” Nassif said.
Nassif and Harris both share similar concerns, especially when it comes to missing the window.
“What I’m most concerned about is that I will have to try to start all over again,” Harris said.
But DSHS said those who don’t receive their second dose within six weeks of their first will not have to start over.
“It’s not a situation where you would have to then get two more doses. It’s just a situation where people should get that second dose as soon as possible. And as soon as it’s safe,” Van Deusen explained.
DSHS said it is encouraging any providers with power outages to administer any vaccine they have, even if it’s to those who aren’t in 1A or 1B, to avoid wasting vaccine. Van Desusen said operations should return to normal soon.
“We’ll be able to pick this up when when conditions improve, and get back to what we were doing, which is, you know, well over 100,000 doses a day,” he said.