White House officials said Monday that thawing temperatures and a weekend of around-the-clock work has begun to clear a backlog of 6 million COVID-19 vaccines that were delayed due to last week’s devastating winter storms.
On Monday, 7 million doses were set for delivery across the country, a figure that includes both delayed vaccine doses and those that are part of the regular weekly shipments to states, said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser on the White House’s COVID-19 response.
Slavitt said all of the backlogged doses — which accounted for roughly three days’ of delayed shipments, and affected all 50 states — will be delivered by midweek.
But he acknowledged that getting the doses to their original destinations is only part of the necessary catchup work, adding that federal officials are urging states to extend hours at vaccination sites as they reschedule missed appointments.
“It will take some time for those sites to catch up,” Slavitt said, noting that some vaccination sites in hard-hit areas remain closed.
The brutal winter weather slowed a rising vaccination rate that the Biden administration had touted last week. Average vaccinations had reached 1.7 million per day, up from less than 900,000 when Biden took office.
In Maryland, 1,087,086 vaccines have been administered, and the state is averaging 27,604 shots per day, according to the office of Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).
During the supply issues, Maryland used up much of its inventory, Acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader told the Maryland Senate’s COVID Vaccine Work Group.
The backlogged vaccine deliveries and this week’s regular deliveries are expected to arrive Tuesday and Wednesday, and vaccination numbers should increase after that, Schrader said.
“We’ve been in constant contact with CDC. They’ve been helpful in terms of keeping us informed. And we’re managing that supply chain very closely,” Schrader said.
Second doses that had been delayed are also expected to arrive, and anyone who had a second-dose appointment that was canceled should receive it this week, Schrader said. The CDC has stated that second doses may be scheduled up to 42 days after the first dose, the Maryland Department of Health noted.
On Monday night, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris participated in a moment of silence at the White House, marking more than 500,000 COVID-19 deaths nationwide. Since last March, more than 376,000 Marylanders have tested positive for the virus, and at least 7,550 have died from it.